What to check before refilling a SCBA Tank

Prior to filling any SCBA tank, regardless of the tanks age, the person filling the tank must inspect the tank prior to filling.

When you bring in your SCBA tank to a Dive shop or other fill location, they are going to check 4 or 5 things before they fill the tank.

1. They are going to check the date the tank was manufactured. They are going to make sure the tank is less than 15 years old. If it is then they will move on to step 2. Currently SCBA tanks have a 15 year service life. After 15 years they cannot be refilled by businesses that fill tanks. Due to the safety record of the SCBA tanks, Some people are working on a process that will extend the service life to 30 years. This is not in-place at this time so the tanks still only have a 15 year service life. Some people with personal compressors may choose to keep refilling their SCBA tanks after 15 years, that choice is up to them.

2. They will check for a current hydro test sticker. SCBA tanks need to be hydro tested every 5 years. If the tank is less than 15 years, and the sticker is less than 5 years old, they will move on to step 3.  Older tanks required a 3year hydro test.

3. They will visually check the tank for signs of damage. They are looking for signs like cracks, deep chips that may of damaged some of the carbon fiber strands, or any exposed and cut strands.  Here is a good link Composite Cylinder Safety – VISUAL DAMAGE

 

4. They will look to see if there is any air in the tank. Any empty tank raises red flags. Usually tanks arrive at the fill location with air in them. If a tank is empty they may not be willing to fill it unless you have a good reason for it being empty. A good reason is a fresh hydro on the tank.

5. Some places have a binder, and they will try to look up the tank to see if there are any recalls on the tank model prior to filling.  You can perform this search by googling or searching the “DOT-E XXXXX” from the label on the tank.  Replace the XXXX with the numbers found on your tank

Why do they do all this testing?

SCBA tanks are very safe, the chances of something happening are very rare, but stuff can happen. 90% of the time if a tanks were to fail, it happens during the fill process. That is why they are so careful.

My Tank is over 15 years old, should I throw it away?

I wold not,  If you have the room I would recommending just storing it out of the elements.  People are trying to extend the service life on the full carbon wrapped SCBA tanks beyond the current 15 year mark.  If and when they do you might be able to get the tank retested and certified for service.