FDIC: MSA Unveils Next-Generation Breathing Apparatus in Indianapolis

April 24, 2007
MSA on April 20 unveiled at the 79th annual Fire Department Instructor's Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, a new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that provides new levels of protection and performance for firefighters. The next generation SCBA, called the FireHawk M7, is designed to meet tough performance requirements established by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

Most notable among the new NFPA requirements is a stipulation that Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) - an SCBA component that sounds a loud, piercing alarm whenever a firefighter becomes disabled or lies motionless for 30 seconds - emit a 95-decibel alarm at temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. These devices, which also can function as a stand-alone device, were previously only required to sound such an alarm at temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

The new NFPA requirements for PASS functionality address shortcomings that were noted by the NFPA in late 2005, and subsequently publicized in an investigative report published this year by MSNBC.com.

The PASS Alarm on the FireHawk M7 was developed by MSA with input from third-party acoustic experts. It utilizes patent-pending technology to actually exceed the NFPA high-temperature requirements, as well as those designed to eliminate accidental alarm muffling.
In addition to the patent-pending alarm, the FireHawk M7 also features fire-resistant electronics and the M7 Accountability System. Based on MSA technology introduced in mid-2006, this new accountability system serves as a fire ground management system that combines the latest computer software with a high-performance radio module to keep incident commanders apprised of multiple firefighter-related conditions. This includes SCBA cylinder pressure, service-time, PASS alarms (motion or manual), thermal alarms, battery status, radio connectivity and evacuation acknowledgement of up to 100 firefighters within a one-mile-line-of-sight all on a computer-based user- interface.

“Because firefighters are the first ones to run into a burning building when everyone else is running out, there is a vital need to outfit them with the most advanced safety equipment that will allow them to work efficiently and safely,” said Ron Herring, vice president of Innovation and Total Quality. “Developing innovations in respiratory protection has been a core competency of MSA for nearly a century.”

In addition to new regulations concerning PASS devices, the new NFPA performance standards also raise performance measures on water immersion resistance, data-logging and user wear-and-tear.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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