Community Forum

Forum Home  /  Ask Firecareers!  /  scba


I recently put on bunker gear with SCBA for the first time. When I donned the blacked out mask I had some anxiety and hyperventalating. i did a little better with the regular clear mask.How can I do better at this and not feel foolish. Is this common? Any replies will be appreciated.

Yes it is common and like many things it can be reduced or eliminated with practice and repetition. Something I have found helps is to think about your breathing, be very deliberate breathe in, hold it for a second then breathe out, it sound kind of stupid but just think about your breathing, once you have slowed your breathing down so you are only breathing the amount you need you will probably find the anxiety goes away or at least is reduced. Do make sure you are breathing enough though (don't hold your breath too long or breathe too slow for your actual needs), if you actually are not getting enough air it will make you more anxious. Don't feel bad about it, many people have issues with SCBA's I've even seen experienced FF have problems with SCBA when they do a confined space or smoke tunnel the first time or two, it is an excercise that is different from their normal experience.

I don't know how much access you have to SCBA but something I've done is have people wear the SCBA around the station while they do normal things (like cleaning), I have found it helps them get comfortable with the SCBA since they are performing a familiar task.

You also should be able to talk to your instructors, this is not an uncommon experience and they should have some ideas for you.

I had a similar issue as well. I found that it doesn't bother when I am breathing off of the bottle, but it is definetly harder to do on room air(no positive pressure). I would hardly say that I was a pro without it but like Afed said you just have to keep doing it and remember that you are drilling and nothing bad will happen to you!!


Thank you for the advice. It is very much appreciated

If you have the opportunity, go on air with the clear mask and do many physical tasks until you drain the bottle completely and then feel what it is like to suck the mask to your face.

A lot of people get psyched out when doing a lot of manual labor while being on air (like tower climbing, etc.) and then really freak out once the air is out. You should try to experience this. This may alleviate some of the other concerns you have with the SCBA and make you more confident with it.

Good Luck!