Categories: Breaking News, Americas, PPE
Tags: MSA, PPE

Exclusive: A comprehensive guide to protecting the firefighter with MSA Safety

Share this content


MSA Safety‘s Gustavo Lopez and Nik Blymiller discuss solutions and the latest advancements in the fire protective clothing

From cloud-connected technology, self-contained breathing apparatus, incident monitoring, and firefighter protective clothing, Gustavo Lopez, MSA Safety Vice President of Product Strategy and Pricing, and Nik Blymiller, MSA Safety Product Group Manager for Fire Protective Clothing, discuss solutions and the latest advancements in the fire service.

With insights from cloud data and from the recent investment in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, it paints a picture of MSA’s commitment to enhancing global firefighter safety by offering new-to-world solutions to help keep firefighters safe on the job.

Can you provide an overview of MSA Safety’s Connected Firefighter Platform?

GL: The Connected Firefighter Platform utilises connectivity and technology to help make firefighters and fire departments more capable.

We look at this as offering a solution for three primary areas: people, products and processes.

The first, people, is about making firefighters safer with new technological tools.

Second, products, is about developing functionality that leverages technology and data to help inform maintenance procedures to make products last longer and be less burdensome to maintain.

Third, process, is about collecting information on firefighter behaviour to inform departments of additional training opportunities to make them safer by raising awareness of their behaviours.

In order to do this, you have to have a comprehensive suite of products that work together to leverage these capabilities.

The MSA Connected Firefighter Platform is an ecosystem of technology-based equipment and tools centred around MSA Safety’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which are the G1 SCBA, primarily in North America, and the M1 SCBA, primarily in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The Platform includes the LUNAR® Connected Device, a handheld device that provides search and rescue capabilities for firefighters and serves as a personal thermal imaging camera, FireGrid software, HUB, and ALTAIR® portable gas detectors.

The FireGrid software is a big part of the Connected Firefighter Platform.

All of our connected products have wireless transmission capabilities to FireGrid, which is our centralised location for storing and providing insights from customer data.

FireGrid is essentially the central focal point that’s gluing our entire platform together.

Can you share the latest enhancements to the Connected Firefighter Platform?

GL: This year, we’ve launched FireGrid Map View, which is currently rolling out in the European market.

As a software enhancement of MSA’s LUNAR Connected Device that enables tracking of a firefighter’s estimated location when outside of a structure, it’s putting firefighters on the map.

Map View is accessible through FireGrid Monitor, our tablet-based on-scene monitoring application.

Map View shows a firefighter’s approximate location as a color-coded marker, using a LUNAR device’s GPS capabilities and coordinates.

In addition to seeing an individual firefighter’s estimated location, a tap of a marker in Map View allows an incident commander to see additional firefighter information, including team assignment, SCBA air pressure, and alarm status.

If LTE cellular connection or GPS connection is lost, Map View will display the last known location of the firefighter.

Incident commanders are also able to see the same information for a team of firefighters, allowing for better visualisation of where team members are located and to help support the rapid decision making that occurs on scene.

There are three selectable views in Map View: street view, satellite and terrain.

In addition to location monitoring with Map View, we’re also advancing the ways data can be used to better inform PPE maintenance, and specifically with MSA Safety’s SCBA products.

Customers with a HUB, LUNAR, any of our cloud-connected devices, can benefit because having their SCBA linked to the cloud allows for SCBA data to immediately be stored in the cloud and accessible through FireGrid.

With the SCBA usage data going to the cloud, fire departments have a solution to help with overhaul maintenance on their SCBAs.

The data transmitted to the cloud includes the number of hours an SCBA is under pressure.

Thinking about it like milage on a vehicle, knowing how long an SCBA is being used helps with maintenance needs and can help fire departments better manage their SCBA fleet and rotating units to evenly disperse usage.

This can help with the longevity of the SCBA and help manage expenses knowing how many SCBA will need to be serviced at a given time.

With the M1 SCBA and G1 SCBA cloud-connected capabilities, we’re able to help fire departments save time and resources by streamlining the process for updates and maintenance.

We’re able to meet our customers’ needs by looking at the data we collect from their devices, turn that around, and give them useful insights and information to help better manage their operations.

Can you explain how does FireGrid uses beyond on-scene monitoring?

GL: We think about FireGrid in terms of four key functionalities: live incident management, post-incident analytics, inventory management and compliance and individual firefighter health and safety.

When you get into FireGrid and see all these capabilities, it really shows how it can be a solution for bringing together what can be fragmented pieces of on-scene and post-scene reporting and data.

Having all this information and data at your fingertips, so to speak, can help make departments more efficient and increase safety.

For live incident monitoring, you can monitor live MSA product data to help the incident commander make more informed decisions in real time.

With post-incident analytics, using our SCBA as an example, firefighters don’t have to change anything about the way that they’re using the breathing apparatus, but because our devices are cloud-connected, all that data is stored in their account in the cloud, and we’re able to utilise that data to provide more insightful analytics and reporting for the customer to better inform things like training or on-scene procedures.

We currently offer an inventory management solution where you’re able to track all of your MSA products and manage all of the relevant maintenance and compliance requirements for each asset.

We’ll be continuing to update the inventory management tool to encompass more products from the MSA portfolio and other products departments may have.

Lastly, for the individual firefighter health and safety component, it primarily takes the focus from looking at individual products to looking at individuals and behaviours.

How does MSA Bristol works to help develop and produce fire protective clothing?

NB: MSA Bristol has been designing and manufacturing speciality firefighting PPE for decades.

MSA Safety acquired Bristol in 2021, bringing MSA Safety into the international fire protective clothing space.

We’re well-placed to help take care of the garments to clean, decontaminate, inspect and repair each item.

Currently, we supply more than two thirds of the fire services in the United Kingdom with PPE.

MSA Safety and its affiliates, like MSA Bristol, invest heavily in Voice of Customer (VOC) activities during the product development process, and that is critical in firefighter product development.

MSA Bristol is actively engaged with the various standards organisations, including EN, NFPA and ISO.

We work with these standards making organisations and help provide input on areas like the latest technology and trends in fire protective clothing.

What are the key materials and technologies that set MSA Bristol’s fire protective clothing apart?

NB: Our sophisticated core garment blocks are one example of what sets the MSA Bristol products apart.

We offer a wide range of sizes, both male and female, for chest and waist widths, along with five different height groups ranging from extra short to extra tall.

All of our styles are available in women’s fit, which is important as we see the number of women in the fire service continue to grow.

We partner with leading fabric producers to help develop and implement the latest fibre and fabric technology in our garments.

We work closely with customers throughout their selection, evaluation and tender process to ensure we’re putting forth a garment and solution for their needs.

That can include different fabric combinations, designs, trims, pockets, whatever it might be.

Ultimately, it’s about helping firefighters find their best fit and so they can concentrate on safely doing their jobs.

How do the accessories like helmets, boots, and gloves integrate with the clothing?

NB: We’re always looking to develop and source accessories that complement our structural and rescue product lines to help enhance firefighter safety from head to toe.

We saw this take shape with the introduction of our X4 product line.

This line integrates Bristol’s high-performance protective clothing with MSA Safety’s market-leading experience in firefighting technologies and connected solutions.

The result is a range of new fire protective options that provide enhanced comfort, ergonomics and compatibility with MSA’s suite of state-of-the art firefighter equipment, from helmets and SCBA, to the very latest in monitoring accountability and communication devices.

We are designing a system for the end user to complement how protective clothing interconnect with the SCBA, with our sights set on developing the next generation of comprehensive firefighter safety.

Where is MSA heading in terms of future developments in fire protective clothing?

NB: We’re looking to bring fire protective clothing into a more connected ecosystem to help customers be better informed about usage and management of their PPE fleet.

This could include usage, cleaning, inspections, compliance and end of life or disposal of these products.

It’s about offering solutions to simplify the process of tracking all the different products firefighters use.

Additionally, we continue looking at how to more effectively link together fire protective clothing with our products firefighters are wearing and using.

What should attendees to the Emergency Services Show look out for from MSA?

GL: We’re looking forward to the Emergency Services Show and showcasing our solutions to help fire departments simplify on-scene incident management, post-event reporting and inventory management.

Additionally, our full line of fire protective clothing will be on display, and when combined with our Connected Firefighter Platform, attendees will see how MSA Safety has got firefighters covered from head to toe.

We will be expanding on how data and technology are being applied across fire grounds during a panel session we’re hosting and highlighting how UK firefighters are deploying innovative technologies to help improve scene management.

This exclusive article was originally published in the September 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox