Posted by Heather Henstock on November 13, 2017
Dalmatian Mandates Quality Control Throughout Its Process
Dalmatian Fire Equipment goes above and beyond standard quality assurance testing for SCBA and breathing air cylinders. According to code of Federal Regulations and Standards, SCBA are required to have a valid PosiChek3 test and cylinders a valid hydrostatic test. This would be sufficient. But not at Dalmatian! We have added Extra Quality Assurance in every area to make sure the equipment is functioning at its absolute safest for our customer’s use.
Our QA Process
Dalmatian’s receiving department has four key objectives: identify, evaluate, tag and store our pre-owned SCBA as they arrive at our facility. Identification is critical. The team identifies the configuration of the units in order to match them to the exact model they were intended to be, removing any mismatched parts and replacing them with those intended for original use. To maintain the configurations of five different brands over a 20 year history takes a lot of coordination and formal systems.
Next, the team checks the functionality of the pack by putting air to the unit. This activates the electronics, such as the HUD sending, receiving and the integrated pass device. If these components are in working condition, the packs can be registered in our system. Each pack that has passed inspection is given a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tag to register and ensure traceability in our system.
Every action in Dalmatian’s process after this point can be traced and recorded. The RFID tags track any modifications made to the equipment and who handled them. Storage is the final stage of the receiving process. Our tracking system provides an exact storage location for the SCBA units. Having this formal system ensures reliability.
Refurbishment starts once an order is placed. Our pre-assembly department traces and pulls the packs from storage. The RFID tag is scanned and linked to the order.
All units for the order are disassembled for deep cleaning and repair. Any components that don’t belong on the unit are taken off. All harnesses are checked for damage or weakness in the fabric or Kevlar. If there is damage, the harness will be sent to our sewing department for replacement or repairs.
Dalmatian uses several washing techniques, including industrial ultrasonic cleaning, washing extractors and hand cleaning. We never use harsh chemicals and only use soaps and detergents recommended by the manufacturers. The cleaning process is specialized for the individual parts of each unit and are rejected by QA if not clean enough. Once the units are cleaned, they are reassembled to the correct configuration and moved to final assembly.
• Final Assembly
The final assembly department puts every SCBA pack component into place correctly, so that each unit passes the code of federal regulations and testing that Dalmatian is required to meet. The assembled packs are attached to a computerized PosiChek3 system used to measure breathing, low air alarms, heads up display, and leaks. It is a very sophisticated test standard. If the pack doesn’t meet the required measurements, the technician has to identify the issue to repair or adjust it.
All repairs or adjustments are accomplished with the guidance of the manufacturers’ services manuals which establish the gold standard for SCBA repairs. Dalmatian technicians are trained to use proper manufacturer specified repair procedures in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.134. We do everything by the book.
Face masks are cleaned; lenses are checked for damage; mask strap elasticity is tested. All masks are tested for seal integrity. Regulators, reducers, every component is tested and repaired.
Cylinders are handled in a separate line of the refurbishment process. Dalmatian is certified and regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide hydrostatic testing on breathing air cylinders. We test about 1,000 breathing air cylinders a month and are considered by DOT to be one of the most efficient hydro testing facilities in the country.We are subjected to random inspections to make sure all procedures are followed.
Cylinders are cleaned of old stickers and any debris. Carbon fiber cylinders are inspected for any damage level 1, 2 or 3. Level 3 damage is considered unrepairable, and the cylinder is destroyed. Aluminum cylinders also have an Eddy test, which checks the threads for any cracks. About 65% of aluminum cylinders fail the hydro, visual or Eddy test. Valves are rebuilt with OEM parts and are submerged in water to check for any leaks.
Shipping is the last step in our quality assurance process. All packs are inspected to make sure they are clean, built correctly, and repaired to quality standard. We also double check that the order is filled correctly. Serial numbers are matched to the RFID for the units and on the tag for the cylinders. Each tag has a spot for employees to initial once they have completed their part of the order.
Customers receive a copy of the PosiChek test for each pack for their records. After passing all the high-tech, computerized tests and inspections, Dalmatian tests the packs on a human. Our QA personnel don each pack, engage the pressurized cylinder and perform a breathing test. This is the most important test because an experienced user may find a small leak, a sticky purge, or it just may not “feel” right. If this happens, the pack will be rejected and sent back to final assembly for evaluation and repairs.
Once everything with the packs and the order are in place, QA will sign off on the tag and ship the order out.