SCBA facepiece lenses may undergo thermal degradation when exposed to intense heat
NFPA has issued a safety alert on Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) facepiece lenses. Among other things, NFPA is recommending that fire departments, fire academies, and emergency service organizations inspect all SCBA facepiece lenses before and after each use. Any SCBA facepiece lens found to have cracks, crazing, bubbling, deformation, discoloring, gaps or holes should be immediately removed from service and a replacement issued.
The alert comes after investigations and additional research found SCBA facepiece lenses may undergo thermal degradation when exposed to intense heat. The full alert and recommendations can be found at www.nfpa.org/scba.
“SCBA is a critical component in the personal protective equipment (PPE) used by today’s fire service. This equipment is essential for allowing firefighters to operate in hostile fire ground environments. However, in recent decades there have been significant changes in the environments encountered by structural firefighters and in how they operate in those environments,” said Kenneth Willette, division director of Public Fire Protection at NFPA.
“The SCBA facepiece lens is generally based on polycarbonate. The SCBA facepiece lens is often considered the weakest component of a firefighter’s ensemble in high heat conditions, but the level of thermal performance of the facepiece lens has not been well understood."