Different Types of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses

You may not know it yet, but self-contained breathing apparatuses are being used every day to save lives and protect our citizens. Firefighters, paramedics, even crew members of certain ships and oil rigs equip and wear these apparatuses to help them survive in dangerous environments.

A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is used to protect the wearer from breathing in dangerous chemicals, smoke, and toxins that might contaminate the air. Dangerous environments such as fires can sometimes fill the air with not only smoke but other toxic fumes and particles that are harmful to the lungs.

These devices are protecting many people every day, even though we are not aware of them. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of breathing apparatuses available.

Open Circuit SCBA

There are two primary types of SCBA, open circuit and closed circuit. Open circuit SCBA are useful for longer rescue operations or shifts on an oil rig.

This type of SCBA continuously recycles the air, creating an endless open circuit of air for the wearer to breathe. The air that the wearer exhales is discharged into the atmosphere. This is done with the aid of a re-breather type of air cylinder.

The re-breather cylinder is attached to the wearer’s back with a harness. Air is fed to the wearer through a breathing mask. There is also a pressure valve which allows the wearer to adjust the air to the right pressure at all times.

The facemask is made up of a protective hood that covers the entire head, a visor which protects the face, and a breathing mask that covers the mouth and is connected to the air supply with tubes.

Closed Circuit SCBA

In a closed circuit SCBA, the air is instead compressed into two air cylinders that are worn on the back in a harness just like the open circuit set up.

For these breathing apparatuses, shorter jobs like quick rescues are most suitable. The compressed air allows the wearer to breathe clean oxygen and not the smoke and toxins surrounding them. The cylinders do need to be checked frequently to ensure that there is enough air for each operation.

These air cylinders are filled with around 1240 liters of compressed air at 200-atmosphere pressure. This means that the person wearing the apparatus has about 31 minutes of breathable air if they are using the cylinder to its fullest capabilities, or about 21 minutes for working conditions. In extreme situations, people tend to breathe more heavily, so the time is lessened. As a result, they will use up more air.

Get an Air Compressor for Your Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus!

We hope that you feel more informed about these different types of self-contained breathing apparatuses. If you are looking for an air compressor for your apparatus, check out our air compressors for fire protection.

Check out our blog for more information, tips, and insight into breathing air compressor systems.

Do you have any questions in regards to air compressors or breathing apparatuses? Or do you need help finding the right air compressor for your needs?

Give us a call at 830-257-5006 or email We look forward to helping you out!