Breathing Air Cylinders: The Life-Saving Equipment Used By UK Fire Services

A house on fire which will need UK firefighters with breathing air cylinders to extinguish.


Breathing air cylinders are a critical component within some types of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) that are used by fire and rescue services across the world. Usually part of the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), these cylinders play a crucial role in protecting firefighters and other personnel that may be required to work in atmospherically unsafe environments, for example in burning buildings where toxic smoke or chemical vapours are present or industrial locations such as confined spaces with poor ventilation or a lack of oxygen which can arise for many unseen reasons.

In this article, we will explore the significance of breathing air cylinders for UK fire services and highlight the importance of proper maintenance and servicing.

Our Respiratory Protection Equipment

What Is Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus?

Breathing air cylinders are commonly used as part of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, which are designed to provide firefighters with a continuous supply of clean and breathable air in hazardous environments. There are two types of SCBA:
  1. Open circuit SCBA operate on an open loop system and are typically used for shorter durations when a firefighter will only be in a hazardous area for a short period (30-60 minutes).

  2. Closed circuit SCBA are utilised when firefighters may need to spend a long time in a dangerous environment (more than 60 mins).

Understanding the specific requirements of each situation is crucial when selecting the appropriate SCBA system, particularly duration requirements.

The Importance Of Equipment Reliability And Safety

Firefighters frequently work in dangerous or life-threatening conditions, so fire and rescue managers and personnel need complete confidence in the reliability and safety of their equipment. Breathing air cylinders are a critical part of fire service safety equipment and must be properly maintained and tested. Regular maintenance and servicing of equipment help to identify and address any potential issues, such as incorrect breathing air cylinder condition, which could prove to be fatal if used incorrectly.

Cylinder Pressure Testing And Valve Servicing

Regular cylinder pressure testing is a legal requirement of The Pressure Systems and Transportable Gas Containers Regulations 1989 as found on the legislation gov website. This testing involves assessing the structural integrity of the cylinders and confirming that they can withstand the pressures to which they are subjected during use.
Additionally, cylinder valve servicing is essential not only to maintain the proper functioning of the valves, ensuring smooth and reliable airflow during operations but also because the valves form part of the pressure system within the above regulations!

Fire Safe International: Professional Maintenance Of Breathing Air Cylinders

At Fire Safe International, we understand the importance of reliable breathing air cylinders for firefighters and offer a comprehensive range of services for their supply and maintenance. Our services include cylinder pressure testing, valve servicing, and cylinder refilling to ensure your equipment is in prime condition and doesn’t let you down when you need it most.

Through our partnership with Composite Technical Systems, we also provide access to composite breathing air cylinders which offer a range of important benefits for firefighters.

  • Ultra-Lightweight: As composite breathing air cylinders are incredibly lightweight, they are easier to carry and require less physical effort during emergency operations.

  • Unlimited Lifespan: With no limit on their shelf life, you’ll eliminate the need for regular cylinder replacements.

  • Cost-Effective: Because you’ll need to make fewer cylinder replacements, your service will save money and ensure your hard-pressed budget goes further.

Get In Touch To Find Out More

To find out more about our supply, maintenance, and repair of breathing air cylinders, please call us today on 01743 761000.

Book Image Source: Pexels