Innovation of the Era!
Mid to Late 1900s

Firefighters Breath a Sign of Relief

Self contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA for short, took many configurations before it evolved into the gear we recognize today. Packs were often mounted on the front of the firefighter rather than the back and the gear was extremely awkward and heavy. Often times expensive equipment such as this was purchased by fire departments from the United States military when the military received new gear or had surpluses. In 1976, manufacturers started to make fully wound composite cylinders that utilized aluminum and fiberglass. This made the self contained breathing apparatus or SCBA pack firefighters carry half as heavy as before. During the 1990's, manufacturers started to wrap the cylinders in carbon, making them even lighter.
Often times, equipment such as SCBA was purchased as military surplus from the U.S. government. Such was the case with this front mount SCBA (circa mid 1900's.) Fire departments also often bought apparatus from the U.S. military when they had surplus, especially after World War II.
This modern version of a SCBA (circa late 1900's) is worn on the back and is much lighter than those worn previously, due to the use of modern materials in its manufacture.