In today’s fast paced and ever changing world of technology – what’s “hot” today is often obsolete tomorrow. That’s not the case, however, with MSA’s (NYSE: MSA) revolutionary G1 breathing apparatus for firefighters. This week, the global safety equipment manufacturer unveiled, at the annual Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, In., a series of safety innovations that demonstrate just how fast technology is advancing firefighter protection.
Among these innovations is a new thermal imaging camera (TIC) that is part of the self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) itself. Introduced as a concept just one year ago, MSA’s integrated thermal imaging camera has since been submitted for regulatory approval and is now available for pre-order. An industry first, the G1 Integrated TIC now makes the concept of personal thermal imaging a reality.
“The G1 SCBA is the single largest new product development effort in MSA’s history,” said Steven Blanco, Vice President and General Manager of MSA’s business in the U.S. and Canada. “But we are certainly not done, and this integrated TIC is evidence of that commitment. Our brand promise to firefighters – When you go in…We go in with you – is what drives us. And it’s consistent with MSA’s long-standing mission to protect people in the workplace. In that spirit, our vision is to continually raise the bar to protect workers with technology that, in this case, has the potential to genuinely change the way fires are fought.”
Compatible with any G1 SCBA, via factory installation or a simple field upgrade, the G1 ntegrated TIC is patent-pending and takes advantage of the only full-color display control module available on the market today. With five user-selectable color palettes, it represents a concept that just ten years ago was considered out of reach by many in the fire service industry, Mr. Blanco commented.
In addition to the new TIC option, MSA unveiled three new and patent-pending concepts that likewise leverage the flexibility of the G1 SCBA platform. These include a fall detection system, a breathing rate detection system and a firefighter ranging system, all of which have the potential to take firefighter safety to the next level.
“While the these three new technologies are still in prototype form, showcasing them at FDIC allows our product designers to gain important, first-hand feedback from the fire service community,” explained Jason Traynor, Global Product Business Director for Respiratory Protection and Fire Helmets.
Falls are recognized as the number one cause for “MAYDAY” emergencies on the fireground, Mr. Traynor explained. Taking advantage of existing hardware within the G1 SCBA, MSA’s fall detection concept triggers an audible alarm that sounds well before a conventional PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) alarm would indicate a lack of firefighter movement. The result is a significantly shortened response time for a downed firefighter.
“Every second counts in a rapid intervention situation,” said Mr. Traynor. “Our goal is to give firefighters those extra critical seconds that could literally mean the difference between life and death.”
Also capitalizing on the G1’s versatile design, MSA introduced a breathing rate monitor that provides firefighters with increased awareness of their exertion levels, enabling them to take immediate action to avoid overexertion, another leading health and safety concern throughout the fire service.
In keeping with this “information is king” focus, MSA also showcased a firefighter ranging system that provides direction, distance and elevation data for firefighters at the scene. Displayed directly on the full-color control module of the G1 SCBA, with one glance firefighters can know of the whereabouts of fellow firefighters, thereby saving time should an emergency rescue situation occur.
Each of the innovations unveiled by MSA are designed to work hand-in-hand with the G1 SCBA telemetry system, thereby allowing incident command to remotely monitor potentially dangerous conditions on the fire ground.
“The G1 SCBA was developed with the promise of providing firefighters with the latest technology, as it becomes available, to help protect them when lives are on the line. These innovations demonstrate that vision in action,” Mr. Traynor said. “Equally important, it represents the next step in our goal to provide a truly unique and versatile SCBA platform that can keep up with the rapid pace of technological change.”
Other MSA activities at FDIC include the company’s official sponsorship of the conference’s firefighter training classes and exercises, where participants will use MSA Evolution 6000 thermal imaging cameras. MSA is also a key sponsor of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) 2016 Stair Climb. Because of the role MSA played in the days immediately following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the company is also making a $10,000 donation to the NFFF in honor of the fifteenth anniversary of that fateful day.
Interested parties not in attendance at FDIC in Indianapolis can keep up to date with the latest happenings from the exhibition hall by visiting MSA’s Facebook page.