A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) has long been standard equipment for firefighters, rescue personnel and divers. SCBA has even found its way into the health care industry for use by workers treating patients with highly transmittable viruses such as Ebola.
Understanding the equipment they build and market must perform at the highest level 100 percent of the time, it is incumbent upon SCBA equipment companies to use only the highest quality parts, materials and assembling techniques in the manufacturing process. Cylinders, masks, regulators, hoses and couplings all must perform flawlessly in the difficult and dangerous environments in which SCBA equipment is employed, requiring manufacturers to produce the most reliable equipment possible. A mechanical failure or inability to rapidly change a cylinder can be catastrophic, not only to a first responder but to the equipment brand itself.
The more consequential the circumstances, the more critical the time between replacing a spent cylinder with a fresh one becomes. This is of particular importance to firefighters who must be protected from superheated air, smoke, and toxic gases.
This process requires connection and disconnection from the coupling as quickly as possible. Replacement begins at the quick-connect coupling attached between the cylinder and the high-pressure hose leading to the regulator. Many fittings employed by SCBA manufacturers have been traditional head-threaded CGA (Compressed Gas Association) fittings and hand-tightened by means of a knurled knob—not necessarily the most efficient method of changing out a cylinder.
Following an intense period of research, the Parker team concluded the traditional CGA coupling could be significantly improved upon. Engineers and designers went to work with a single focus: developing an SCBA product that would save time and improve reliability. They developed an innovative coupling that would far exceed the industry standard set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Parker’s innovative 503 Series quick couplings are the most advanced products of their kind on the market today.
Clearly, it's a technology leap. The value of—and the Purpose behind— the Parker product was evident from the beginning: The couplings are designed to keep our firefighters safe and effective in stressful situations. But making the switch from a threaded fitting to a coupling would be costly as 100% of the market was relying on those threaded connections.
How do Parker’s 503 Series quick-connect couplings improve upon the traditional CGA fittings? Following extensive development and testing, they have proven to far outperform traditional head-threaded CGA fittings in all critical categories: design and construction, connection time and overall reliability.
Designed and built for the harsh environments of the fire and rescue industry, these rugged, durable couplings provide several added benefits over the traditional CGA connection, including:
Promotion of rapid cylinder replacement even under the most hazardous circumstances,
Improvement of efficiencies during cylinder charging at the firehouse (allowing personnel time to complete other tasks), and
Significant reduction of wear and tear on the cylinder (a positive impact on the fire department budget).
A traditional CGA connection utilizes a high-pressure hose and threaded hand coupling, the 503 Series connection features a male nipple/female coupler assembly. This method of the connection supports rapid cylinder replacement by eliminating the need to unthread/thread the CGA coupling. The push-to-connect coupling method employed by the 503 Series coupler provides a more rapid and secure connection. With lives at stake, firefighters and rescue workers cannot afford anything less.
According to Paul LeMay, Engineering Manager for the Quick Coupling Division, Parker launched the quick disconnect couplings for the SCBA with a charter customer who fully understood the "Must Have" nature of the product and it wasn't long until the rest of the market followed suit.
These innovative 503 Series push-to-connect couplings provide easy and quick connection and disconnection of the cylinder on the SCBA even in the most extreme environments. Featuring a robust design and constructed of stainless steel, these couplings can withstand the most dangerous conditions, including those caused by temperature and pressure. The enhanced hand wheel design provides an improved grip for a faster and more efficient way to replace the SCBA cylinder—even while wearing heavy gloves.
These state-of-the-industry quick couplings are compact and can be fitted to existing SCBA’s and cylinders. An integral lock pin ensures the coupling is firmly locked by the pressure and cannot be disconnected when the SCBA is pressurized. The coupling is also ideal for use on transfill systems, making it a convenient and easy way to connect cylinder bottles to firehouse systems for a refill.
Here is an overview of the features that make the 503 Series the cutting-edge choice for SCBA manufacturers:
Push-to-connect operation greatly reduces wear on cylinder threads
Enhanced hand wheel design for a firmer grip even with heavy gloves
Integral lock pin ensures coupling cannot be disconnected while pressurized
Retrofitted to existing SCBAs and cylinders
For use on SCBAs, cylinders and transfill systems
Pressure rated at 2,216, 3,000, 4,500 & 5,500 PSI
Rugged and durable stainless steel construction
Made in the USA
Learn more about Parker’s SCBA Couplings.
Certainly, pride in one's work, innovative thinking and a shared sense of Purpose are the hallmarks of our most critical engineering breakthroughs and most significant achievements. The quick disconnect couplings won Parker's 2019 Mousetrap Award and are now keeping firefighters safe in over 40% of the US Market. To learn more about Parker Leading with Purpose visit our page.
Watch the video from our Purpose in Action page:
Article contributed by Todd Lambert, market sales manager, Parker Quick Coupling Division.