Fire Service Breathing Air Compressor Safety

Fire Service Breathing Air Compressor Filter Changes. This is the Air You Breathe!

Safety is? Being cognizant of your surroundings and prepared for the inevitable.

Breathing air filling procedures may vary Fire Department to Fire Department. Having an SCBA safety and fill policy, is mandatory in most NFPA states and fire departments. However, there are agencies that do not maintain the same safety and maintenance records for the nucleus of the breathing air operation-The High-Pressure Breathing Air Compressor. With the push to 4500-5500 psi breathable working environments, it’s imperative we keep in mind the safe proper operational importance of the equipment that fill these high-pressure breathing air cylinders.

Each Nardi fire service compressor adheres to a specific set of guidelines for manufacturing and must meet NFPA, EN and ANSI specifications for breathing air quality and grade. Our Nardi breathing air filtering process, is unique and provides for large volumes of Grade “E” breathing air. The processing of standard atmospheric breathing air requires the compressed stored or bottled air be tested on a regular interval. In the fire service the air being stored or processed should be tested quarterly, bi-annually or as per departmental policy. The breathing air filter changes are recommended at hourly intervals, and should be monitored or inspected for air quality and moisture-condensate saturation.

Breathing air filter cartridges have a combination of material that aids in “scrubbing” and “drying” the ambient air to grade “D” or better, that being Grade “E” according to military specification, which is where the breathing air standard was developed and adopted. A graded breathing air requires measured desiccant dryer material called molecular sieve, hopcalite catalyst, which is used for the conversion of trace amounts of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, and activated charcoal to eliminate odors and any taste of lubricants that may taint the processed air. Each of these materials are combined in a specific separated order. A series of dry felts and packing screens are added to separate these materials, that when properly compressed and stored, will provide the end user a safe grade of breathing air for IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) working environments or recreational use.

When inspecting your filter cartridge, the end user must decompress the application by opening manual drains and disconnecting electricity or turning the application off. The filter is then removed as per the manufacture’s guidelines. The inspection process must include the hours, since its last replacement, as well as the color of the molecular sieve, or any electronic and or visual moisture indicator(s) that measure moisture/condensate and CO (Carbon Monoxide) filter saturation. These are clear and concise safety indicators that may indicate if the filter in question should be reinstalled or discarded and replaced. Never hesitate to call the manufacture for questions regarding the proper replacement and install of any purification filter or dry air cartridge.

Should the breathing air be tainted with the taste or odor of lubricants it is recommended that the end user run the compressor with no filter installed and the filter housing cap be properly secured during this period. During this run time leave all manual drains open, allowing for residual air to be discarded via the open manual drains. After a short period, a few minutes, turn the application off, leaving the manual drains open and install the new filter to avoid contaminating the new filter with any stagnate air. Once the new filter is installed, run the application with drains still open for 1-2 minutes, then close manual drains and begin the filling operation. Remember to test your air for purity and moisture, making certain to reinstall any color-metric elements or reset electronic CO monitors that are required for the new processing filling cycle.

It remains imperative that the quality of breathing air be tested periodically as per NFPA and regulatory guidelines or departmental policies.

On Deck with Safety is. Proper Breathing Air Compressor Oil Changes.

Check out our line scuba air compressors and fire department air compressors and feel free to contact us with any questions.