Trending Topics


I know most of us have an SCBA SOG or SOP. And if you’re like me, you probably think it’s amazing that we still have to specify that our personnel use the $3,000 worth of breathing gear to protect ourselves, but we do.

What follows is the text of my department’s SCBA SOG. The reality: It’s a bit on the wordy side. After all, it should just say “Wear your SCBA whenever you even remotely think you might need it”; however, we still have those people who think they’ve got leather lungs and who believe that “It won’t happen to me.” As such, we’ve tried to identify in these guidelines when it is absolutely necessary to use your SCBA. So with that in mind, here’s the text of our SCBA SOG:


The purpose of this guideline is to identify the SCBA policy and to outline the use of the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). This guideline may not cover all situations, and the authority to deviate from it belongs to the on-scene incident commander, who shall be responsible for consequences of his/her actions.


A. It is the policy of the Granbury Volunteer Fire Department to avoid any respiratory contact with oxygen deficient atmospheres, the products of combustion, superheated gases, toxic products, or any other hazardous contaminants and conditions. Note: The use of SCBA means that personnel shall have face-piece in place and breathing air from the tank provided.

B. All personnel involved in interior firefighting operations shall use an SCBA.

C. An SCBA shall be used by all personnel operating under any of the following conditions:

C.1. In a fire building; or,

C.2. In an unknown atmosphere; or,

C.3. In a contaminated atmosphere above 35ppm carbon monoxide (CO); or,

C.4. In a contaminated with any ammount of hydrogen sulfide (H2S); or,

C.5. In an atmosphere which may suddenly become contaminated; or,

C.6. In an atmosphere that is, or may become, oxygen deficient; or,

C.7. In an atmosphere which is suspected of being contaminated or oxygen deficient.

C.8. This includes all personnel operating:

C.8.a. In an active fire area, excluding grass and brush fires; or,

C.8.b. Directly above an active fire area; or,

C.8.c. In a potential explosion or fire area, including gas leaks and major fuel spills; or,

C.8.d. Where products of combustion are visible in the atmosphere, excluding grass and brush fires; or,

C.8.e. Where invisible contaminants are suspected to be present (e.g., carbon monoxide during overhaul); or,

C.8.f. Where toxic products are present, suspected to be present, or may be released without warning; or,

C.8.g. In a confined space which has not been tested to establish respiratory safety.

D. Personnel using SCBAs shall operate in teams of not less than two at all times and should work as a company when possible.

E. SCBA shall be worn by all personnel operating at fire incidents that are above ground, below ground or in any other area which is not presently, but may become, contaminated or oxygen deficient. In these circumstances only, the SCBA may be worn with the face-piece removed.

E.1. The wearing of the SCBA in these situations provides that it will be available for use if the conditions change or the wearer enters an area where SCBA is required.

E.2. The exception to this is when ventilating a roof above a working fire situation. Due to the danger of roof collapse, all personnel involved in roof ventilation shall have their face-pieces in place, breathing air from the SCBA tank.

F. Premature removal of the SCBA and/or face-piece shall be avoided at all times. This is particularly significant during overhaul, when smoldering materials may produce increased quantities of carbon monoxide and other toxic products. In cases such as these, the SCBA shall be used, or the atmosphere shall be changed.

G. Personnel using SCBA shall not compromise the protective integrity of the SCBA for any reason when operating in a hazardous atmosphere, or in an atmosphere where the quality of the air is unknown, by removing the face-piece or disconnecting any portion of the SCBA that would allow ambient atmosphere to be breathed.

H. The decision to remove the SCBA during an incident shall be made by the sector officer, with approval from the incident commander and based on a current evaluation of the conditions. Prior to removal, areas shall be thoroughly ventilated and, where necessary, continuous ventilation (fans or forced air movement from installed air mover systems) shall be provided and operating. Do not remove the SCBA until the CO level is below 35ppm.

I. All personnel who are expected to function in the areas outlined in this policy shall be trained in the proper use and operation of the SCBA in accordance with [your department’s SCBA training procedure].

Veteran firefighter Scott Cook writes about the wide range of decisions that effect firefighters every day. His FireRescue1 exclusive column, ‘Firefighter Note to Self,’ will keep you informed about everything from SOGs to firefighting war stories to company officer elections.
Mayor Donna Holaday presented the city’s desire to operate its own ambulance service staffed by firefighters already trained as EMTs