A self contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA is an appliance worn by crewmen on board a ship in order to provide breathable air to a dangerous for life & safety environment.

According to MSC,1/Circ 1432 all SCBA appliances are subject to annual inspections/service, confirming to be operational at all times.

The available services for Breathing Apparatus include:

  • Inspection
  • Refill
  • Hydrotest
  • Supply

Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is a critical piece of personal protective equipment used by firefighters, emergency responders, and other professionals working in hazardous environments. Regular inspection, maintenance, and testing of SCBA are essential to ensure their proper function and to protect the lives of the users.

The inspection of SCBA includes several steps to ensure that the equipment is in good working condition. The inspection should be carried out by a qualified technician and includes an examination of the facepiece, regulator, cylinder, and other components. The technician should check for any cracks, holes, or damage to the equipment, including the straps, buckles, and hoses. They should also check the expiration date of the air cylinders, which typically have a lifespan of five to fifteen years depending on the type of cylinder.

Hydrostatic testing is a mandatory periodic testing process that is required for all SCBA cylinders. This test is designed to evaluate the cylinder’s strength and integrity by filling the cylinder with water and subjecting it to pressure. The hydrostatic test is usually performed every five years, and the cylinder is marked with the test date and the expiration date.

Refilling of the SCBA cylinders is a critical process that requires trained personnel and specialized equipment. The cylinder must be refilled with clean and dry compressed air, which must meet the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The refilling process also includes checking the cylinder’s pressure and verifying that it is filled to the proper level.

It is essential to maintain proper records of all inspections, hydro tests, and refills to ensure that the SCBA is in good condition and meets the required standards. This record-keeping includes tracking the inspection dates, hydrostatic test dates, refill dates, and the results of each test.

In summary, regular inspection, maintenance, and testing of SCBA are critical to ensuring the equipment’s proper function and the safety of the users. This includes a comprehensive examination of the SCBA, periodic hydrostatic testing of the cylinders, and proper refilling of the cylinders. Adhering to these procedures and maintaining accurate records is essential to ensure that the equipment remains in good working condition and is ready for use when needed.

One of the main IMO regulations is the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which requires all ships to carry at least two self-contained breathing apparatus sets for use in emergencies. SOLAS also requires that SCBA are inspected, maintained, and tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and that records of such inspections and tests are kept on board.

MSC Circular 1206 provides guidelines for the maintenance, testing, and inspection of SCBA for use in firefighting and rescue operations. The circular outlines the recommended maintenance and testing intervals, including the periodic hydrostatic testing of the cylinders, and provides guidance on the proper handling and storage of SCBA.

The IMO International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) also contains specific requirements for the inspection, maintenance, and testing of SCBA. The FSS Code requires that all SCBA are inspected and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and that a record of all inspections and maintenance is kept on board. The FSS Code also requires that SCBA cylinders are hydrostatically tested every five years or as required by the manufacturer.

In addition to these regulations, individual flag states may have their own specific requirements for the inspection, maintenance, and testing of SCBA, which must be followed by ships flying their flag.