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The Dangers of Air Contamination



As an employee of AOS Services, the child of a diver and a former diver myself, I’ve been around compressed air most of my life. And yet, I’m somewhat bashful to admit that I didn’t fully understand why we tested our air. 

So, with a mixture of my own curiosity and a desire to bring awareness to others about the importance of air testing, I visited TRI’s Air Testing Laboratory here in Austin, Texas to find out more.


Part One – The Dangers of Air Contamination

Part Two – The Different Types of Air Testing

Part Three – How to Take a Air Test Sample (and get it right the first time)



As you’re likely aware, air quality testing of compressed air is required every quarter according to NFPA 1989. Failing to do so is an enormous liability and puts fire stations out-of-compliance.

Just this month, a fire department in Spokane Valley, Washington was put under investigation when oil and contaminants had gone undetected in their air cylinders, a process that will likely last months and consume large amounts of time.

However, the most critical factor in regular air testing is the dire notion that clean air could possibly be what stands between a firefighter and a life-threatening situation.

As a firefighter, I have no doubt you’re aware of the implications of contaminated air. However, it’s always helpful refresh yourself on the ramifications posed by contamination.


Hydrocarbon is a compound of hydrogen and carbon and is the main component of petroleum and natural gases. It’s present in compressor lubricants and fuels and thus can find it’s way into SCBA's. Hydrocarbons are highly combustible and pose several types major dangers which is why it’s essential to regularly change compressor filters. In addition to it's combustible nature, it's bodily effects include:

- Respiratory System Problems
- Central Nervous System Problems
- Lipid Pneumonia
- Dilated and Ruptured Alveolis
- Emphysema

 Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is the deadliest toxic found in compressed air. It cannot be stopped by filters and due to it’s colorless and odorless nature, it’s impossible to detect without air quality testing. Contamination occurs through three means 1.) Poorly maintained compressors 2.) A poorly placed compressor that intakes unclean air 3.) Someone burning plastic/rubber near a compressor. Its effects include:

- Headaches
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Confusion
- Loss of Equilibrium
- Unconsciousness
- Death

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide is not considered hazardous on its own. However, levels that are compressed within a certain range considered “normal” otherwise, can cause the same issues of carbon monoxide. In addition, it stimulates the respiratory center which increases both the rate and depth of breathing which not only speeds up the effects of the other systems but also increases the intake of other contaminants. 

Moisture, Dew Point, Oil Mist and Particulates

 Moisture levels over the recommended amount result in the automatic failure of an air test. While not dangerous to the human body, the above contaminants result in inoperable equipment which cause safety and financial issues. In cold climates, excess water vapor can cause the regulator or valve to freeze. We also see increases of moisture in tropical/coastal areas during the summer due to increased humidity levels.


With the bodily harm, equipment damage and financial burden that result in contaminated air in mind, what should stations do to reduce risk?




If you have any questions or would like to add, please send it my way! Also, Look out for the next article that will discuss the different varieties of air testing available on the market and the pros and cons of each.



TRI Air Testing, (2017) A General Overview of Compressed Air Testing for Purposes of Improving Firefighter Safety

University of Washington Environmental Health Laboratory, Breathing Air Quality Sampling and Testing retrieved from

How to Be Successful with Fall Out Funds

We're fast approaching time for 


fall out funds.png

Hi there, 

Journey, here, from AOS. I wanted a few minutes of your time to talk about a very special time of year for Air Force Firefighters -- "Fall Out Funds Season." A time for fire departments that's either extremely beneficial or a total bust if not properly planned.

So let me ask you this...

Do you have a clear goal in mind for FY18 -- and are you allocating your funds towards it?

While there may be fires that need to be put out right now (oh firefighter puns,) it's important to stay focused on your long-term goals -- whether that be safety, new apparatus, or better training. If you don't invest in your goals, they'll stay just that... goals. Instead, turn them into reality by being budget smart and following the tips below: 

  • Evaluate Your Goals
  • Review Goals Weekly/Monthly
  • Make Actionable Steps for Achieving Goals
  • Stay Organized - Keep track of spending
  • Know Where Your Money Goes (and block any leaks)
  • Shop Smarter

I can't stress the last point enough -- shop smart. What that doesn't mean is find the cheapest ladder/PPE/Service company on the market. Even with budgets being tight, you get what you pay for. Instead, your department MUST do their research and way the pros and con's of several providers. And once again, refer back to your goals. If saving money in the long-term is more important to you, let that reflect in your decision making.  

With a goal-centeric mindset and proper planning, your fire department can utilize it's fall out funds in a way that will provide long-term lasting results. It just takes time, intention and planning. 


Looking to utilize Fall Out Funds towards our services?

Well aren't we lucky! If you wish to allocate funds to AOS's inspection and maintenance services, there's a couple things to keep in mind:

First, let us know! We can't tell you how many times contracts have been sent out with our services in mind only to  get lost in the big crazy world of government bidding because contracting didn't contact us. To avoid that, call or email us so we can be on the look out.

Second, if your logistics officer is having any issues with justification, we can provide them our highly informative guides and templates for justification, fund requests and contracts. 20 years in the biz means we've helped write a few (thousand) contracts so we've found out how best to reduce the headaches from contracting. 

And as always, thank you for everything you do for our country.


Kind regards,
Journey Jolley, AOS Services Marketing Director



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