SCBA facepiece fit testing is required by NFPA, OSHA and other safety standards to ensure an adequate mask seal and acceptable Fit Factor. To help you better understand these requirements and to help ensure compliance and the safety of your personnel the following questions and answers are presented:

Q. What are the reasons for fit testing?

A. The two primary reasons for fit testing SCBA users are; 1) training verification, and 2) proper sizing of the facepiece.

Q. Can either Quantitative Fit Testing (QNFT) or Qualitative Fit Testing (QLFT) be used for positive pressure fire fighting SCBA?

A. Yes, either method is acceptable. However, because QLFT is a subjective test and QNFT is a more precise objective test it is generally concluded that QNFT is the better, more preferred test.

Q. What frequency is required for fit testing?

A. Fit testing is required initially, prior to the SCBA being used in the immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) environment and once annually thereafter.

Q. Does a "user seal check" qualify as a fit test?

A. No, a user seal check is a procedure the firefighter performs each time they don the SCBA and is done to ensure the mask is properly seated to the user's face. It is not a substitute for a fit test.

Q. When did OSHA and IDOL require fit testing?

A. The Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134) published on 1/8/98 revised previous fit test requirements and also specifically addressed structural fire fighting procedures (2-In / 2-Out). The compliance date was January 1999.

Q. How many exercises are required during the OSHA QNFT method?

A. OSHA requires 8 exercises and each must be at least 60 seconds except the grimace exercise which must be at least 15 seconds.

Q. Which NFPA standards require fit testing and what is the frequency?

A. NFPA 1500 (Safety & Health Program) & NFPA 1404 (Breathing Apparatus Program). The frequency requirements are the same as OSHA and IDOL.

Q. What records must be maintained?

A. Fit test records must be maintained until the next fit test. Each test record must contain the firefighter ID, type of fit test,   date last tested, results of the test, and the make, model and size of the mask tested. AQL provides these test records and a wallet card.

Q. Who can perform QNFT or QLFT for my department?

A. Contact AQL for all your respiratory protection safety requirements including compressed breathing air quality testing. All work is performed by a Certified Safety Professional (CSP).  AQL is your Safety Professional!  

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