Is There a Future for Rebreathers in Public Safety Diving?

erdi-4-22-13-1We have seen over the past years that rebreather manufacturers are producing their units at a lower cost compared to say 10 years ago. As the growth of this equipment becomes more and more available, the next question may be, “Is there a place in the Public Safety market for Rebreathers?”

So what are some of the pros and cons of rebreathers on public safety teams?

Pros

  • Increased time underwater per diver
  • Lighter overall unit weight
  • Smaller Profile for overhead environments
  • Less exhaust noise for clearer communications

Cons

  • Unit cost
  • Training cost per diver
  • More expensive maintenance fees
  • More time spent on system readiness check
  • Finding a fill station at your local fire station
  • Added cost for up keep and routine maintenance supplies
  • Other dive team interaction with the unit
  • FLOODING WORRIES
  • Decon worries
  • Cost of communication for the unit
  • Availability of spare parts

As you can see, we have only listed a few items under each of the categories and I am sure everyone will have a lot more opinions. As there are different versions of rebreathers, the next question is which version would best meet the needs of public safety dive teams. If there was a future for rebreathers on a public safety team one might say the SCR would be a likely choice as the cost of these units has come down and there is no need for a mixed gas version.

I agree with the SCR idea, but I also believe that, just like with scuba regulators, every team would want a different make of SCR. Until the PSD industry trends towards the rebreather as an option, I don’t see the industry promoting R&D for a truly qualified (harsh conditions) rebreather. What do you think?

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3 Responses to Is There a Future for Rebreathers in Public Safety Diving?

  1. Allen says:

    I would love to know how much a rebreather costs and how come the manufacturers can’t/won’t provide the necessary training and parts in a cost efficient package?

  2. Gary says:

    Surface supply is the way to go. If your going to make the next step that’s the direction it should be. Rebreathers are great for some tech. and for photo work, and many other types of diving. They are way to fragile for work in public safety diving. the chance for problems is to high, and when things go wrong with a rebreather they go wrong big time. That’s my 2 cents, I can’t imagine trying to budget for the overtime I would need to get my divers dialed in on a rebreather. I look forward to hearing other opinions.

  3. Is there a place in the Public Safety market for Rebreathers? Yes, absolutely. But I would agree (with all the CONS) that it is a very small place. We use surface supplied, SCUBA, and rebreathers for PSD. They all have their specific place depending on the task at hand and the environment. Some operations would be a lot more work, money, and dangerous without the use of rebreathers. For example: a body recovery in a lake (not contaminated with fuel/oil/debris/etc.) at 300’. Some may say that this is Technical Diving and not PSD. But in reality it is a combination of both: processing a crime scene and recovering a body underwater is still considered PSD, doing this at extreme depths involves Tech Diving Techniques as well as proper PSD training. PSD & Tech do cross each other’s paths and combine to make quite a diving operation / experience. Surface Supplied is awesome and our number one choice, but in some cases…..specifically extreme depths, with no known hazards, rebreathers work great (if of course the person/team is properly trained and experienced on the unit).

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