A modified SCBA facepiece for accurate metabolic data collection from firefighters

Richard M. Kesler, Elizabeth T. Hsiao-Wecksler, Robert W. Motl, Rachel E. Klaren, Ipek Ensari, Gavin P. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To better assess the energy expenditure and exertion of firefighters during simulated firefighting activities, a commercial firefighter self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) facepiece was modified to interface with a portable metabolic monitoring device (Cosmed K4b2) while still functioning as a positive pressure SCBA air supply. To validate the device, standard National Fire Protection Association 1981 SCBA function tests were conducted and 14 subjects performed variable-workload assessments using all combinations of two test devices (Cosmed K4b2 and metabolic cart) and two masks (modified SCBA facepiece and stock manufacturer-supplied breath collection). Metabolic data collected with the Cosmed K4b2 via the modified facepiece were found to be accurate when compared to a ParvoMedics Truemax 2400 metabolic cart (average per cent difference: 4.6%). This modified facepiece design is suitable for use in metabolic studies requiring the utilisation of an SCBA system. Furthermore, the well-established overestimation of oxygen consumption from the Cosmed K4b2 system was replicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-159
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


  • firefighting
  • gas analysis
  • oxygen uptake
  • respiration
  • self-contained breathing apparatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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