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Breathing apparatus (BA) is a type of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) that requires a supply of breathing-quality air from an independent source such as an air cylinder. BA enables firefighters to breathe safely in otherwise irrespirable atmospheres. 

BA is worn at incidents to provide respiratory protection for firefighters working in oxygen-deficient, toxic or hazardous atmospheres. Therefore, using BA is one of the control measures likely to be employed as part of the incident plan for any fire or hazardous materials incident. 

Appropriate firefighting procedures should be employed whenever BA teams are involved in a fire-related incident. Therefore all BA wearers should be competent in the use of firefighting techniques and media. Firefighting tactics should take into account the effects on and proximity of BA wearers within the hazard area. 

The National Operational Guidance contains details of the hazards and control measures for fires and firefighting, and for fires of specific types. 

BA command and control procedures provide a clear framework for operational activities to function effectively, structured around the incident command system. The procedures will allow efficient, effective and safe working practices to be adopted and can be adapted to all sizes and types of incident that require the use of BA.  

This foundation material is designed to complement and support the National Operational Guidance. It describes the principles underpinning the planning, use, and command and control of BA. It should also assist fire and rescue services with: 

  • Developing safe systems of work when deploying BA 
  • Managing BA operations  
  • Maintenance of BA equipment 
  • Defining roles and responsibilities for BA 
  • Developing BA training 
  • Readiness of BA wearers 
  • Pre-planning for intraoperability and interoperability 

The National Operational Guidance for BA is contained in the Operations guidance; it includes relevant control measures with their strategic and tactical actions

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