VII. The Drager BG-174 A
a. Introduction- The Draeger BG 174-A (or 1 74) is a self-contained,closed-circuit breathing apparatus that you carry on back. For a limited time, it supplies you with oxygen and removes carbon dioxide from the air you breathe.
The Draeger breathing apparatus recycles and replenishes the air in a continuous cycle within the apparatus, completely independent of the air around it.
The BG 174-A weighs about 30 pounds, and its working are protected by a carrying frame and metal cover. If you encounter conditions such as low roof or an obstructed pathway during rescue and recovery operations, you can remove the Draeger BG 174-A from your back and push it ahead of you or pull it behind you.
The Draeger apparatus is also equipped with automatic and manually-operated safety devices and other features, including pressure gauges to let you know how much oxygen you have.
Once the oxygen cylinder is opened, the unit functions by itself, so aside from checking the pressure gauge now and then, you can concentrate on your work.
b. Where You Wear it- The fact that the Draeger apparatus is independent of surrounding air makes it particularly well-suited for mine rescue and recovery work after fires and explosions, where you may encounter smoke, toxic or poisonous gases, fumes, or other conditions that make the air around you unfit to breathe.
The apparatus will not offer protection against poisonous gases absorbed through your skin such as hydrocyanic acid.
Because the BG 174-A can provide you with up to 4 hours of breathing protection. The apparatus is especially good for underground work or in other situations where it may be hard to determine exactly how much time you will need in order to complete your work.
c. How it Works- Basically, the BG 174-A breathing apparatus works like this: When you inhale, oxygen from the oxygen bottle flows through the breathing bag ,and travels up the inhalation tube to you. When you breathe out; the exhaled air passes into a regenerative canister where chemicals remove carbon dioxide, a by-product of the breathing process. Then it's passed along to the breathing bag in the middle of the unit where it's mixed with free oxygen and the whole process begins again. The oxygen you use up when you breathe is replaced from an oxygen cylinder at the rate of I.5 liters per minute. This is known as "constant flow" metering. If you use up oxygen at a faster rate, a lung demand valve built into the apparatus responds by letting more oxygen into the system.
d. Oxygen Cylinder- Once the cover is removed, you can easily see the unit's oxygen cylinder, which is fitted horizontally to the bottom of the frame.
The BG 174-A's cylinder is made or strong alloyed steel. It has a capacity of 2 liters, which is roughly equivalent to 2 quarts. At full pressure the cylinder can contain up to 440 liters of compressed oxygen.
The cylinder must be tested every 5 years to see that it remains in good condition.
Just opposite the connection that joins the cylinder to the unit is the cylinder valve which is used to open and close the cylinder. This valve has a special "slip clutch" design which helps keep you from opening or closing it accidentally. To open the cylinder valve, pull out on it and with two fingers, gently turn it counterclockwise until it's all the way open, then turn it back about a half turn. Turning it back half a turn leaves some "play" in the valve so that when you're wearing the apparatus you can reach back and assure yourself that the valve is open.
When you close the valve, again pull it out and with two fingers only. Turn it clockwise until the valve is closed.
The "two-finger" method is recommended because twisting the valve too hard can strip or otherwise damage the threads on the valve seat's spindle.
On the top of your oxygen cylinder is a safety device known as the pressure burst cap.
When the pressure within the cylinder reaches 4450 PSI, the cap will "burst," allowing oxygen to escape through holes in it. This keeps the bottle from rupturing with great force. Heat can cause the cylinder to approach the 4450 PSI "danger limit."
At 2000 PSI, it takes approximately 700' F to make the oxygen within the cylinder expand to 4450 PSI. causing the cap to burst. With a full, four-hour cylinder - 3135 PSI-it takes approximately 300o F to do the same thing .
e. Oxygen Control Group- On the right side of the unit's carrying frame are a number of parts which together make up the oxygen control group. These are the parts that control (or regulate) the oxygen supply as it comes from the cylinder.
The oxygen control group is connected to the oxygen cylinder by a threaded, finger-tight connection, and to the breathing system by way of the preflush/dosage line.
Parts included in the oxygen control group are: the pressure reducer, the dosage metering orifice, the preflush unit, the pressure gauge shutoff valve, and the bypass valve.
f. Pressure Reducer- The pressure reducer is located in the center of the oxygen control group.
The adjustment nut for the pressure reducer is located inside the sealed blue knob-like housing you'll see in the oxygen control group. As its name indicates, this part reduces the pressure of oxygen coming from your cylinder to a more manageable 57 PSI.
g. Dosage Metering Orifice- This oxygen then flows through the dosage metering orifice, a drilled orifice (hole) which meters it to deliver a "constant flow" of about 1.4 to 1.7 liters per minute to the breathing bag. This enough oxygen to sustain you while you're working at a moderate rate. By contrast, while you're sitting in this room, you use up, about eight-tenths (.8) liters per minute.
h. Preflush Unit- Within the housing with a black rubber cover are parts designed to flush the breathing bag with 6 to 7 liters of pure oxygen immediately after the cylinder is opened. The parts within this housing are known as the preflushing unit.
Automatically prefushing the breathing bag serves two purposes: It gets rid of any residual air that might have accumulated in the bag, and it makes the apparatus immediately ready for use in an emergency.
i. Pressure Gauge Shutoff Valve- The parts of the oxygen control group that we'll be talking about next-the pressure gauge shutoff valve and the manual bypass valve-are very important ones. Hopefully, you'll never have to use them. These are "back up" safety devices designed to be used in an emergency. The pressure gauge shutoff valve is the metal lever located between the pressure reducer and the preflush unit. You should close this valve only if you suspect your pressure gauge or pressure gauge line is leaking. (This is usually indicated by a sharp, quick drop in your chest gauge reading or the premature sounding of the warning whistle.)
To activate the pressure gauge shutoff valve, lift the lever approximately 30 to 45 degrees from the horizontal to the stopping point. Lifting the lever shuts off oxygen from your pressure gauge line and warning whistle. It does not affect the constant dosage or the medium-pressure oxygen going to your lung demand valve. Once you've lifted the lever, keep an eye on your chest gauge so you can tell if there's a leak in the gauge or gauge line. If there is a leak, oxygen trapped in the line will escape, making the pressure gauge reading fall quickly. And when the pressure reaches 20 to 25 percent of full cylinder pressure, your warning whistle will sound for 20 to 60 seconds.
These two factors-complete loss of gauge line pressure and the brief sounding of the warning whistle-prove that there is a leak, the pressure gauge line is severed, or the gauge is malfunctioning, so leave the shutoff lever in the "up" position.
However, if your pressure gauge reading does not drop and gas trapped in the line keeps the gauge "frozen" at the pressure you read when you first lifted the shutoff lever, you'll know there is no leak in the pressure gauge line. If that's the case, be sure and put the shutoff lever back down in its original position.
This is important for two reasons:
(1) If you don't push the lever back down, your chest gauge will continue to indicate how much pressure you had when you lifted the shutoff lever rather than what's actually in the cylinder.
(2) If your pressure gauge shutoff lever is in the "up" position your warning whistle is isolated. so it cannot sound to let you know when your oxygen is low.
j. Bypass Valve- The second of the two safety features located within the oxygen control group is a black recessed button surrounded by a red rim-the manual bypass.
Like the pressure gauge shutoff valve, the manual bypass is for emergency use only.
It is called a "bypass" valve because pushing it sends oxygen directly from the cylinder to you, hence "bypassing" the parts of the apparatus that limit or control its pressure. Use this bypass valve only if your oxygen control malfunctions and you're not getting the required 1.5 liters of oxygen per minute. To activate the bypass valve, you need only press it for an instant and then release it. The valve is self-closing.
Because it bypasses elements within the system that control oxygen supply, this valve can deliver up to 50 liters of oxygen per minute to the breathing bag. That's far more than you need so use it sparingly.
You should also keep in mind that since the oxygen is coming directly to you from the cylinder, you’ll use up what's in your cylinder much faster. That means you'll have far less time under oxygen. Never use the bypass valve to "freshen" or "cool" the oxygen in the breathing bag. That's simply a waste of oxygen.
Remember to use the manual bypass only when it is absolutely necessary-and when you do, use it sparingly.
k. Pressure Gauges- A pressure gauge is an instrument which measures the amount/pressure of oxygen in your cylinder. The BG 174-A has two of them-a chest gauge and a cylinder gauge. They are marked in increments of 200 PSI and are luminous so you can see them in the dark, or in other conditions that limit visibility.
These two gauges, though they both give the oxygen pressure reading, work independently of each other.
1. Chest Gauge- The chest pressure gauge operates only when the oxygen valve is open. It measures the oxygen pressure going into the apparatus from the cylinder. This gauge is located at the end of the high-pressure line extending from the oxygen control assembly and warning whistle.
The chest gauge is the one you'll refer to when you're actually wearing your Draeger apparatus. It is fastened to the right side of the harness by a rubber strap so it's always within easy reach. When not in use, the chest gauge is protected by a metal cover.
After checking the pressure, the gauge should always be put back into its cover. This holds the gauge and protects it from external damage.
Leading from the unit to the chest gauge is a rubber coated pressure gauge line. Inside the tube's rubber coating is a closely wound spiral high-tension line which is relieved of tension by a bronze core. Remember that if this tube develops a leak, you can lift the pressure gauge shutoff lever to keep oxygen from flowing into it.
2. Cylinder Gauge- The cylinder pressure gauge is attached to the top of the oxygen cylinder. It gives a constant reading of the pressure, whether the cylinder is in storage or in the apparatus. This is the gauge you'll refer to when you fill your cylinder or add a new one. When the unit is in use, the cylinder gauge is not visible because it is under the unit's cover.
l. Warning Whistle- Connected to the pressure gauge line assembly above the oxygen control group is a whistle called the warning whistle. It is designed to warn you when you have only 20 to 25 percent of the original charged pressure left in your cylinder.
It will also alert you to a leak in the high-pressure line leading to the chest gauge. When the pressure reaches the point where the whistle sounds, the leak can be stopped by lifting the pressure gauge shutoff lever.
When the warning whistle sounds, it blows for about 20 to 60 seconds and uses about 3 liters of oxygen.
When you hear this whistle, you’ll know you have approximately 90 liters of oxygen remaining or about 45 to 60 minutes worth of oxygen.
The whistle will sound at about 700 PSI on a 4-hour apparatus, and at 600 PSI on a 3-hour apparatus.
m. Breathing Bag- The breathing bag is located at the center of the unit, protected on all sides by the carrying frame. It is made of a synthetic 3-ply rubber fabric and has a volume of 5 to 7 liters.
The breathing bag has two "sockets" on it. One of these is a threaded socket which connects to the lung demand assembly, and the other elbow socket connects to the regenerative canister. By unscrewing these sockets and the preflush/dosage line, you can remove the breathing bag for cleaning and disinfecting.
n. Regenerative Canister- The metal unit at the top of the apparatus is called the regenerative canister. The special chemicals inside the regenerative canister absorb the carbon dioxide from the air that is exhaled by the wearer. The oxygen in the exhaled air is not affected by the chemicals. It passes through the canister and goes back into the breathing bag where it can be breathed again.
There are two types of canisters you can use with the Draeger apparatus:
1. Refillable training canister.
2. Factory-packed, disposable canister (sometimes referred to as an alkali canister).
The basic difference between the two is that the factory- packed, disposable canister is the only one approved for actual rescue work.
Both canisters have arrows on them The match up to the arrows on the canister holder at the top of the apparatus.
1. Refillable Training Canister- The refillable training canister is approved for training purposes only and has a maximum period of 4 hours use. It is made of stainless steel and can be used over and over again as long as the absorbent chemicals are freshly packed for each use.
Inside the canister is a set of baffles designed to expose more surface area of the chemicals to the exhaled air. The canister must be completely filled each time it is used in order to get good results. You will learn the proper procedure for filling the canister later on in the lecture.
The chemicals used to fill the canister have a shelf life of approximately 2 years from the date of manufacture which is printed on the packaging label. For easy reference, the expiration date for the chemical is also printed on the label.
2. Factory Packed Rescue Canister- The factory packed cannister is similar to the refillable. However, the chemical is higher in concentration to remove virtually all the carbon dioxide from the breathing circuit, and has breathing channels or baffles in which the exhaled air has to travel to be properly cleaned.
It has a expiation date on the label, and string seals or tape seals to insure that the unit has not been used before.
o. Diaphragm- These parts depend for their operation on a very important part of the lung demand assembly-the diaphragm. This is how it works:
This diaphragm moves in or out in response to pressure created by the breathing bag. When the breathing bag has too much oxygen in it, it becomes overinflated and so produces a forward pushing pressure or "positive pressure" against the diaphragm.
On the other hand, when the bag has less than the normal amount of oxygen in it, it becomes deflated, pulling the diaphragm in toward it. This pulling motion is known as "negative pressure."
p. Pressure Relief Valve- The pressure relief valve is the part of the lung demand assembly that keeps oxygen from building up in the breathing bag if you use less than the unit provides. For example, if you're resting, you probably won't consume as much as 1.4 to I.7 liters per minute of oxygen.
The excess oxygen will then fill the breathing bag to the point where it becomes overinflated. The overinflated bag creates positive pressure which pushes against the diaphragm, causing it to move outward against a spring.
As the diaphragm moves outward, it moves away from the sealing bolt, revealing an opening in the diaphragm that normally remains closed. The excess air flows through this opening, escaping to the outside atmosphere thorough a nonreturn valve.
q. Lung Demand Valve- The lung demand valve is the part of the lung demand assembly that automatically lets more oxygen into the circuit if you require more than what's flowing into the breathing bag.
If you are working hard, for example, the amount of oxygen you need may be greater than the 1.4 to 1.7 liters per minute your unit normally supplies. When this happens, the breathing bag deflates with each breath you take until it no longer supplies you with enough oxygen. This is where the lung demand valve comes in.
As the base deflates, negative pressure pulls on the diaphragm. This forces the plunger in the diaphragm to move inward against the valve's stickpin-type lever. The lever in turn opens the valve, allowing oxygen (at 57 PSI) to now directly from the pressure reducer to the lung demand assembly by way of the medium-pressure oxygen line. This oxygen flows into the circuit at a rate of 80 to 120 LPM.
r. Inhalation and Exhalation Valves In a closed-circuit breathing apparatus, keep in mind that it is very important that the breathing air flows only in one direction. If it didn't, you'd risk breathing in exhaled air filled with carbon dioxide, or fresh oxygen might not get to you. In the Draeger apparatus, the inhalation and exhalation valves keep the air flowing in one direction.
During inhalation the air is drawn out of the breathing bag through the lung demand assembly. The air then passes through the inhalation valve near the bottom left side of the lung demand assembly. When the air is exhaled by the wearer, it passes through the exhalation valve located on the top of the lung demand assembly.
Remember, these are one-way valves designed to control the direction of air flow in the breathing system.
s. Breathing Hoses- The breathing hoses used with the Panorama Nova face-piece are made of durable, corrugated rubber. They are very flexible and offer little resistance to inhaled and exhaled air, enabling you to breathe almost as freely as in open air.
The hoses consist of an inhalation hose and an exhalation hose. The inhalation hose has a saliva trap attached to it.
The trap is on the inhalation hose because it must be located on the lowest part of the apparatus when it is worn so that the moisture will settle there. The trap features a chain connection between the trap and its cap, so that the cap cannot be misplaced when it is removed.
The hoses, like the facepiece, have a single coupling assembly (for attachment to the facepiece) with a divider to channel the breathing air. There is also a small dam inside to prevent excess saliva from going into the exhalation hose.
At the other-end of the hoses are two threaded connections for attachment to the apparatus. The inhalation hose (with the saliva trap) connects to the inhalation hose connection at the lower portion of the lung demand assembly.
The exhalation hose connects to the exhalation hose connection near the top of the lung demand assembly.
t. Facepiece- The Panorama Nova is the facepiece used with the BG 174-A. It has a single "panorama" type lens which offers 90 percent peripheral vision, allowing you to see most of what you normally see. It permits unobstructed vision with both eyes, which is very important in judging distances.
The mask has a double-sealing edge for protection against the infiltration of smoke and gases. The Nova facepiece also has a nosecup inside the mask designed to help channel the inhaled and exhaled air to and from the wearer.
This nosecup acts as the third sealing edge to protect you from smoke and gases.
The Nova facepiece has a five-stamp head harness, which adjusts to provide a good facepiece seal, and a neck strap which you can put around your neck to support the mask when you are not wearing it. The neck strap can be shortened from its regular length so you can carry the facepiece close to your chest when you are not under oxygen.
It is shortened by attaching the button which is located on the strap, to the small buttonhole on the center head strap.
At the lower part of the facepiece is a single coupling assembly where the breathing hoses are attached. You will notice when you look closely that facepiece connection, that it has divider or ridge built into it. This divider helps to separate the inhaled air from the exhaled air as it passes between the hoses and the wearer.
u. Cover- The cover of the Draeger self-contained breathing apparatus acts as a protective shell for its internal parts. It is made of a lightweight yet rugged metal that will withstand heavy wear and tear.
The cover is specially designed to be slim so that it will fit into tight spots. Sled-like ridges on the cover make it easy to slide the apparatus ahead of you or pull it behind you. Most Drager units in use have covers made of an aluminum alloy. Newer models have covers made of stainless steel.
The aluminum alloy cover has a stripe of high-visibility orange paint and two strips of reflective tape down the center which make it easy to spot the wearer in darkness, fog, smoke, or other conditions that limit visibility. The stainless steel cover has two red reflectors on the lower part of the cover near the fasteners.
On the top right center of the cover is the approval label. It is here that you will and what the approved service time is for the apparatus, the approval number, and the minimum use temperature.
In order to get at the units internal parts, you must first remove the cover. To do this, push in on the step fasteners on the lower part of the cover.
When the fasteners release, pull upward and outward on the cover until the tab on top slips out of the slot.
To close it, simply put the top tab into its slot and push the bottom of the cover down over the fasteners until you hear it "snap" into place.
v. Wearing Harness- The wearing harness consists of two adjustable shoulder straps with double slide buckles and a waist belt.
The shoulder straps have plastic rings on the ends that, when pulled down, adjust the straps for proper fit. The double slide buckles are designed for quick release.
The right shoulder strap is equipped with a tension relieve strap. There is a springhook on this strap which clips to the breathing hoses to relieve some of the hoses' weight from your facepiece.