Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

First Advisor

Larry R. Collins

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management


From 2010 through 2013, an average of 90 firefighters died in the line of duty each year (USFA, 2014). Firefighters who are off-duty continue to die as well, however, it is extremely difficult to determine whether their deaths are a result of on-duty-related exposures or not. Medical and field research has consistently found associations between smoke inhalation and acute and chronic illnesses that highlight the dangers of on-duty exposure to smoke. This study investigates the early removal of the SCBA by firefighters in one fire department while operating at fire incidents. The findings indicate that firefighters are mostly aware of the dangers that smoke inhalation and exposure presents; however, they continue to remove their SCBA prematurely, particularly during overhaul operations. This points to a need for written policies and procedures that clearly define when and for how long the SCBA must be worn on fire incidents, more frequent training on the benefits and consequences of wearing or not wearing the SCBA in a contaminated environment, and a change in mentality of current firefighters who still think breathing smoke is acceptable fire ground behavior.