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Breathing Apparatus

From Philip's Scrap Book To Hi-Tec History For Pits Rescue

Simon and Wayne Havill

There were two broad types of breathing apparatus in general use for the purpose of affording respiratory protection against poisonous or irrespirable atmospheres. These were: -
(1) Tube Breathing Apparatus;
(2) Self-contained Breathing Apparatus.
(3) Escape Apparatus. recommendations were made by the Chief Inspector of Mines that simple and suitable self-rescuers should be provided for men working underground

Tube Breathing Apparatus.

The Fourth Schedule to the General Regulations (Rescue) 1928 required each Central Rescue Station to maintain 4 sets, and each colliery employing 100 or more persons underground one set, of tube breathing apparatus. The eighth Schedule to the regulations required the official calling assistance in case of emergency to requisition the "smoke helmet" or other apparatus serving the same purpose.

Ivan Buggins and Asst Supt Radford1.- Helmet Type. This type of apparatus allowed the wearer to go a limited distance into a dangerous atmosphere by obtaining fresh air, forced through a tube, from a point beyond poisonous area.

The Spirelmo type comprised a leather helmet with an apron which completely enveloped the head of the wearer; the fresh air being delivered to him, through an air tube of two-ply canvas insertion rubber with an internally embedded wire armour and an external canvas fabric covering. The air was pumped into the helmet by means of a hand or foot operated bellows worked by another person. The air tube is 3/4"diameter, usually in 2-60ft. lengths, and fitted with screwed unions.

Ivan Briggs wearing smoke helmet and Asst Superintendent Radford on bellows.

When in use it was vital for the bellows to be operated continuously, to supply a continuous flow of fresh air to the wearer, and to maintain a pressure above that of the atmosphere, in the helmet.


2.- Equaliser Types.
In these types of apparatus bellows were not used, but a rotary blower might or might not be used.

All these apparatus were fitted with an air flow equalising device which had the function of converting the intermittent flow of air to a very nearly uniform flow, thereby reducing the air flow resistance of the tubing to a minimum. This was important since a high resistance induced lung fatigue in the wearer.

The air flow equalising device was either of the Briggs pattern, a box shaped bellows carried on the back of the wearer, or a corrugated tubular shaped bellows, the Haldane pattern, which connected the mouthpiece to the air tube. On inspiration the bellows contract as air was drawn from them, and air began to flow along the tube, whilst during exhalation the bellows expanded to their normal size and kept the air flowing steadily along the air tube. In this way the air resistance was kept down to about l-l/2" of water gauge, whereas if the air flowed intermittently, at a high rate during inspiration, and then stopped altogether during expiration, the resistance would build up to as much as 10"- ll" of water gauge.

Blowman ApparatusThe Antipoys Apparatus. (1) This apparatus comprised head harness, nose clip, vulcanised rubber mouthpiece, rubber disc type inhalation valve, Tissot type exhalation valve, Haldane equaliser device, body belt and air tube with strainer.

The Bloman Apparatus. (ii) Was similar to the Antipoys but had, in addition a hand operated rotary blower mounted on a japanned steel case designed to contain the whole apparatus when not in use. See picture

The Briggs Apparatus. (iii) Comprised a Briggs equalising device, with mouthpiece and breathing tubes, inlet valves were mica discs, the outlet valve was of the Tissot types. Air flow depended entirely on the equaliser device as bellows were not permitted for use with this Apparatus. Tube breathing apparatus-made by Siebe, Gorman, Ltd.

Precautions when using short distance tube breathing apparatus.
The approved types were for use over a limited range of forty yards, and this distance was not to be exceeded. Care had to be taken to avoid damaging the breathing tubes, and air supply tube. Bellows had to be operated continuously on the helmet types when in use.
A small bird and a flame safety lamp had to be used and observed continuously at the fresh air end of the tube.
The air supply tubes should be underwater tested at least at six monthly intervals.


Blowman Apparatus

From: Les McClelland
Sent: 24 Nov 2013
Subject: Siebe Gorman

I have recently listed a Siebe Gorman mining smoke helmet from the 1930's I bought in Nottingham.
The listing is coded 161158680586
. If you click on the number or put it into an eBay search the item will appear.
The price is modest and the item very much a part of mining history. I thought you may be interested.



Ane Ringheim Eriksen
25 May 2016
Photo of smoke helmet in use

My name is Ane Ringheim Eriksen and I work at a museum in Larvik, Norway.

We are doing a new exhibition now, and we are going to display a Siebe Gorman smoke helmet and bellow. We searched for information on this helmet, and found your website with this wonderful photo:

Ivan Buggins and Asst Supt RadfordIvan Buggins and Asst Supt Radford
We were wondering if you have the rights to this photo, or if you know who have these rights? We might be interested in showing this photo in our exhibition.
Best regards,
Ane Ringheim Eriksen
Tlf 40 22 40 98
Advisor, Larvik museum

Steven Dickson
20 Feb 2014
Fire Safety Helmet, How Much Do You Think It Is Worth?

I have recently bought this fire safety helmet, and see on your site a similar item, however mine has a different badge and no leather shoulder protectors. I was wondering if you could give me any information on how much you think it would be worth.

I have included a few pictures, and any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,

Fionn, Because of their rarity and generally they are all different as they only used to have a few at each Rescue Station and they weren't all the same model or company therefore I suppose they will all be different prices, however one is advertised at £140 on eBay. I also suppose that if one wants the item and depending on the age and condition then really no price in the lower hundreds is out of reach.
There really is no fixed price. It also depends whether you are selling or buying.
That is all the advice I can give.
Cheers, Bob