Exclusive: MSA in the Middle East


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Nigel Evens, Business Director at MSA for First Responder and Milipol (Government) in Europe, Middle East and Asia, discusses the company’s commitment to the region and its plans for the future 

MSA Safety has a strong presence in the Middle East, and the recent acquisition of Bristol Uniforms has served to strengthen its position. We have also come a long way since our conception as the Mine Safety Appliances company nearly a century ago. From the Edison Electric Cap Lamp for miners to the ALTAIR Grid and G1 SCBA, MSA has been a leader in the development of innovative and industry-leading products that help protect people at work. 

Bringing game-changing innovations in safety to our customers is the lifeblood of what we do at MSA and how we help keep people safe. Our ability to leverage technology to protect workers is at the heart of our mission – a mission that has remained unchanged since our founding: that men and women may work in safety and live-in health throughout the world. 

Today, MSA employs more than 5,300 safety experts across the globe. We work to protect people and facility infrastructures in a broad range of markets, including the oil, gas and petrochemical industry, the construction industry, mining and the military, and the fire service. Our core products include self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), firefighter helmets and protective clothing, gas and flame detection systems, portable gas detection instruments and fall protection devices. 

Oil and Gas Industries 

Because of our expertise in gas detection, providing relentless protection from rig to refinery, MSA has always been well-placed to support and supply the many oil and gas companies in the Middle East, and we’re fortunate to have many long-standing customers in the region.   

We made our entry into these markets by establishing an office in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the early 1980s, and since then, our provision of safety equipment to oil and gas customers in the Gulf region has seen considerable expansion through important relationships with a number of Channel Partners situated across UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. Through these partners we supply industry giants such as Aramco (the Saudi Arabian public petroleum and natural gas company) and ADNOC (the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company), to name a few. 

The many safety solutions supplied to these industries in the region include portable gas detection and fixed gas and flame detection, head protection and fall protection devices. In addition, our specialist firefighting PPE and safety equipment is required for industrial firefighting teams operating in refineries and petrochemical plants. 

Traditionally, these companies prefer to adhere to international standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), also widely used throughout the USA, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region.  As such our NFPA certified range of breathing apparatus, PPE and helmets are generally preferred by these industrial firefighting teams. 

These include our game-changing G1 SCBA, which offers integrated and enhanced solutions to exceed needs today as well as years into the future and includes an intuitive alarm system, user interface, telemetry radio module, head-up-display and voice amplifier, all in a compact and easy-to-operate device. Equally, our MSA Cairns range of NFPA-compliant helmets is particularly popular in these industries, providing traditional U.S. firehouse designs as well as modern styles with retractable visors, jet-style helmets, and low-profile rescue helmets. 


Civil Defence

Last year, the acquisition brought Bristol Uniforms into the MSA family of brands, which has served to strengthen our offering in the Middle East and is providing exciting opportunities to access new markets in the region. 

Bristol Uniforms, now known as MSA Bristol, is a pioneer in the development of specialist firefighter PPE and is another company with strong historical connections in the Middle East. It was here that Bristol established links with its first overseas distributors back in the 1970s, which has paved the way for a long-standing and prominent presence for the Bristol brand. Today, MSA Bristol distributors are situated across UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, and whilst some customers are in industry, the company principally supplies MSA Bristol protective clothing to the Civil Defence forces in these countries. 

National Civil Defence Forces in both Qatar and UAE, for example, wear Bristol’s popular structural firefighting range, XFlex. This features a Gore Crosstech moisture barrier, and Hainsworth’s TITAN1220 outer layer, supplied in Paris Blue to Qatar Civil Defence and Desert Tan to UAE Civil Defence. This kit is perfect for the job because it is ergonomically designed, with distinctive sports styling, enabling excellent range of movement and flexibility which helps firefighters carry out a variety of physical roles more effectively.  

Bahrain Civil Defence have specified the alternative Ergotech Action 2 structural fire coats and trousers, also with a Hainsworth Titan 1220 outer layer in Paris Blue. This style is lightweight and ergonomic, featuring special shoulder shaping, which provides greater comfort when wearing breathing apparatus, plus large underarm gussets for greater reach manoeuvrability. 

As a rule, in contrast to customers in industry, Civil Defence customers tend to prefer kit and equipment certified to standards set by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) rather than the NFPA. All of MSA Bristol’s structural firefighting ranges meet CEN standards, including XFlex, Ergotech Action 2 and the brand-new EOS range, which offers the ultimate in protection, flexibility and strength.   

Top-to-Toe Solutions 

With our new, even wider selection of industry-leading and game-changing safety solutions, MSA Safety is today in a unique position to be the only company offering such a comprehensive portfolio of safety solutions in the Middle East region. We can now offer both industrial and civil defence markets with full top-to-toe protection for their firefighters, with our exhaustive and unprecedented range comprising firefighter helmets, protective clothing, self-contained breathing apparatus and a suite of high-tech safety detection and communications devices meeting a range of international standards. 

We are now in a position to offer our full CEN certified range of specialist firefighting equipment to our many existing Civil Defence customers, alongside our MSA Bristol protective clothing. 

  • Helmets 

Customers will have access to the iconic MSA GALLET firefighting helmet, for example, which meets the European standard EN443:2008 and continues to be a popular choice amongst fire services across Europe and beyond. The latest model is the GALLET F1XF, offering superior, unimpeded vision in all directions, and 360-degree head protection against heat and impact. Lighting and communications are integrated into the design for excellent quality radio communication. Functional and versatile, the GALLET F1XF is easily integrated with SCBA facepieces and fits well with MSA Bristol’s protective hoods and structural firefighting jackets.  

Also available is the new multifunctional helmet, the GALLET F2XR. Owing to its modular and versatile design, the GALLET F2XR suits a wide variety of working environments. It has been certified to five different helmet standards and offers innovative features to better respond to specific missions such as wildland firefighting, technical rescue operations including road traffic collisions, rescue at height, and water rescue.  

  • Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus  

Building on the success of our G1 SCBA design, already popular with industrial customers in the region, we have developed the new M1 SCBA for the European market, which would also better suit the needs of Civil Defence forces in the Middle East. The M1 is a modular system that can be customised to suit the varying and evolving requirements of fire and rescue services across different nations and regions. The system is easily upgradable, so that whilst the basic system is accessible and affordable to fire services of all sizes and budgets, it is crucially able to accommodate more advanced technologies which are likely to become mainstream in the future.  

The M1 SCBA system offers state-of-the-art technological innovations such as a dedicated smart touchscreen Entry Control Board (ECB) for incident and air level monitoring. This connects automatically to the MSA HUB base station – a local monitoring system with Cloud technology which enables full telemetric monitoring of cylinder pressure, motion, service-time remaining, personal alerts, thermal alarms, GPS location and more, giving incident commanders access to crucial live data. It also features the fully integrated voice communication C1 headset, offering exceptional voice transmission and reception of incoming messages. These are all essential features to enable firefighters to communicate effectively and reliably with each other, and to enable close monitoring of each member of the team at all times.  

The M1 has been tried and tested alongside MSA Bristol’s XFlex, Erogotech Action 2 and EOS ranges, and together they provide a particularly ergonomic PPE combination, with the seams and shape of the jacket positioned to comfortably accommodate the SCBA harness. 

  • Gas detectors 

Used alongside SCBA, MSA’s ALTAIR portable multi-gas detectors are another crucial tool for protecting lives, warning against dangers in the immediate atmosphere. The ALTAIR 4X is a tough and durable device which simultaneously measures up to four hazardous or combustible gases, while the ALTAIR 5X version measures up to six. Both feature InstantAlert and MotionAlert alarms to warn others of dangerous situations or if a firefighter stops moving, and a Bluetooth wireless connection provides real-time incident awareness to Incident Command. 

  • LUNAR 

Finally, the high-tech situational awareness and connectedness offered by the M1 SCBA system has been taken a step further with the launch of our new hand-held LUNAR system. Small and wireless, LUNAR can be used as a stand-alone device or as part of an MSA SCBA system. It offers advanced Firefighting Assisting Search Technology (FAST) which combines distance and direction data with thermal imaging, so that separated teammates can be located quickly. Direct cellular cloud connectivity provides live stats such as air pressure and time remaining, and a unique network connects the devices of everyone on-scene, as well as Incident Command.  

All of these products and more will be available for visitors to view at Intersec, where MSA will be exhibiting in Hall 5, booth 5A10.   

The Future  

At MSA, we are already seeing the benefits of the expansion of our offering and range of products in the region, and have firm plans to further extend and consolidate our reach here, working closely with our Channel Partners and distributors to maximise new opportunities.  

Our commitment to the region has been underlined by a new appointment made at the beginning of the year. Yassin Afroukh, a fire industry professional with many years’ experience in PPE and Fire Equipment across the region, has joined us as a dedicated Middle East Sales Manager, and will be operating from our offices in Dubai. Yassin, myself and the MSA team will be available on our stand at Intersec to discuss specific requirements and demonstrate the breadth and depth of our product range. 

We’re very much looking forward to meeting face-to-face again with our valued customers and contacts. In the meantime, more information on our products is available at https://ae.msasafety.com/  where our ‘Find A Distributor’ search facility will guide visitors to relevant Channel Partners across the region. 

Without doubt, at MSA we’re proud of the strong relationships we have built in the Middle East and look forward to continued success in the region, further widening our international reach and providing the very best protective equipment to firefighters on the front line, wherever they are in the world.  

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