When Should You Don Your SCBA Facepiece?

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

A couple of days ago, I received an e-mail message from a firefighter looking for some pertinent safety information on the subject of when firefighters should don their SCBA facepiece. Here’s their message:

Chief Avsec,

I’m a volunteer firefighter/EMT for our local fire department and I’m writing to you because I came across several of

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your articles while researching a particular issue for our department.

Currently our department doesn’t have an SOP/SOG on file in regards to whether or not to mask up prior to arriving on scene to a fire. As it currently stands, we’ve had one person injured (newer to the department,) from being told to do this prior to exiting the fire apparatus. Some feel that it should be done, while others feel that it is a matter of safety to actually mask up just after exiting the fire apparatus once on scene.

I’m researching this to present to my battalion chiefs so that we can get a good SOP/SOG in place with the highest priority being for the safety of our firefighters. Do you have any information that might be for or against this?

Several of us are of the position that it is far safer to don the SCBA facepiece after getting on scene (and out of the apparatus,) as we are all responsible for scene size up (to a degree,) and that once the mask is on, it can fog rapidly depending on conditions, and visibility can become more limited. Any help, information, or other department’s SOP/SOG’s that might be able to help would be so very greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

I, for one, always admire initiative on the part of firefighters. And I especially like firefighters who seek out

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I don’t know about anyone else, but the more I see of today’s European-style helmets, the more I like the functionality and better protection (especially from lateral hazards) they provide.

information in advance of presenting a solution to their boss about a problem, especially when it involves firefighter safety.

So, what do you say? Who can provide some guidance and direction for this volunteer firefighter?

In the interest of anonymity (because everyone isn’t as enlightened or appreciative of initiative as are you and I) for this firefighter, please leave your comments here on this post, or send them to me at rpa1157@gmail.com. Sample SOGs are certainly welcome!

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for FireRescue1.com and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec and his wife of 30+ years now make their home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, rpa1157@gmail.com.