• Breathing Air Compressor Maintenance

Breathing Air Compressor Maintenance

Breathing air compressor systems are required for the filling of breathing air cylinders used with self-contained breathing apparatus. Compressors are generally considered core infrastructure for operations involving firefighting, confined space entry, and other similar challenges. These are ubiquitous in urban or remote fire stations.

These systems vary in extent, output, automation, and ancillary components, but generally comprise some or all of the following:

  • Reciprocating compressor with free air delivery between 100l/min and 1000l/min with breathing air filtration – prime movers are various and include electric single phase, electric 3 phase, petrol or diesel
  • Fill panel – can be integrated into compressor frame, wall mounted, or integrated into a blast containment station
  • Optional automatic cascade panel – removes the need to manually cascade from storage banks when filling
  • Optional Blast Containment Station – will contain fragments and direct blast away from operator in the extremely unlikely event of a catastrophic cylinder failure
  • Storage Banks – Generally comprising multiple 50ltr, 350 Bar “G Size” cylinders plumbed together as 1, 2, 3 or 4 “banks” to buffer available breathing air
  • Live Air Quality Monitoring – monitors breathing air for water, oil, Co and Co2 after filtration and before storage banks or breathing air cylinder and shuts down the compressor if any of these values are outside Australian Standards (AS/NZS1715/16) for breathing air
  • Chillers and Dryers – Utilised downstream of the compressor to dry breathing air and prolong the life of breathing air filter elements

The most elementary systems comprise the reciprocating compressor with integral fill panel, while the most complex and automated comprise all of the above.

These systems without exception have OEM-specified preventative maintenance schedules that at the most basic level include filter changes, oil changes, leak and free air delivery testing, and (at the customer’s request) verification of accuracy of all indicator gauges and pressure relief valves.

More complex servicing extends to valve replacements, piston and / or ring replacements and various other replacement part schedules. Service intervals vary from brand to brand and are based on hours run, with a typical schedule being a variant of the following:

  • 3 Monthly – Air Quality Testing
  • 12 monthly - Oil change, filter change, FAD test and leak test as a minimum
  • 100hr Service
  • 500hr Service
  • 1000hr Service
  • 2000hr Service

All hours-based servicing includes removal and replacement of various mandatory replacement parts, with more durable (generally further into the block) spares being replaced at the higher hour intervals along with all MRP’s from preceding scheduled servicing.

Like all life-critical equipment, when servicing or repairing breathing air compressor systems, only parts sourced through the manufacturer should be used as component materials are specific to deal with temperature, flow, pressure or hardware composition of each specific make and model and manufacturer’s instructions must be followed to the letter to achieve a compliant result.

FRSA and FRSNZ can provide a recommendation and quotation suitable for any application, as well as install, carry out scheduled servicing, and provide breakdown support to a number of makes and models of breathing air compressor systems. If your operation requires such a system as a new capability or your current system is due for upgrade or replacement, why not give us a call and speak to one of our consultants to make sure that you have breathing air available on demand when you need it the most.

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