By Sarah Calams for FireRescue1 BrandFocus
Sponsored by MSA Safety
Firefighter health and wellness is about more than just nutrition. While eating well and remaining physically fit is an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle, firefighters cannot forget about the importance of head-to-toe health.
And because each and every firefighter dons their gear and equipment before stepping on scene, it's imperative for that gear and equipment to be safe and effective.
At MSA Safety, their mission is just that: to assure firefighters are safely equipped by developing technologically-advanced equipment, as well as advocating for their complete head-to-toe health.
Head-to-toe health initiative
Earlier this year, MSA held a workshop aimed at arming firefighters with the right health, wellness and safety knowledge in order to start and end their careers on a high note.
Thirty firefighters were awarded tactical athlete scholarships to participate in the wellness and performance training program. In return, these firefighters, along with many others, were educated on fitness, nutrition and their overall wellbeing.
This is just one of many examples of how MSA is focusing their efforts on the bigger picture of firefighters' health and safety.
Ben Mauti, who started as a design engineer and later joined MSA's marketing team, says the over 100-year-old company has always worked on incorporating features into their products that support firefighter health and safety.
For example, MSA's G1 SCBA has an integrated thermal imaging camera, which uses the same battery as the SCBA and reduces the amount of equipment a firefighter needs to carry. This type of technology, Mauti said, is unique to MSA.
"We've also been leaders in other areas, such as adding removable soft goods for easy cleaning to our Cairns helmets and G1 SCBA," he said.
The addition of removable soft good parts directly coincides with the Firefighter Cancer Support Network's directives aimed at curbing cancer in the fire service. The soft good parts, which include a standard liner, Nomex ear lap, Velcro tabs and a mesh laundering bag, allow for easy removal and cleaning.
The company has also incorporated advanced ergonomics into the G1 SCBA by including improvements such as harness customization, an adjustable lumbar pad and widened and adjustable shoulder straps. Moreover, Globe's ATHLETIX turnout gear gives firefighters a better range of motion to perform their jobs easier and more efficiently.
Each of these stand-alone safety products are impressive. However, all together, they can make a difference in life or death situations.
The MSA difference
Engineering products such as the G1 SCBA, Cairns helmets and Globe turnout gear, Mauti explained, allows the design to focus on the needs of today's firefighters.
"They are the leaders in each of their categories," he said. "They have safety and health features that are unique to MSA."
When a firefighter don and doffs their gear, there are specific steps they take to ensure their overall safety both before and after responding to a scene. From a lighter SCBA facepiece to more flexible boots, MSA's safety products literally cover firefighters head-to-toe.
"This is giving us the opportunity to investigate unique and new safety solutions for firefighters," Mauti said.
MSA is also continuing to focus their efforts on providing new technology to aid in firefighter safety.
For example, MSA announced their new Hub product last year, which will enable SCBA data to be viewed remotely. The Hub, a cloud-based product, gives incident commanders the ability to manage several incidents no matter their location. "This opens up new possibilities in firefighter health and safety monitoring," Mauti added.
At the end of the day, every firefighter wants to return home safely following their shift. These products are designed to help keep firefighters safe – both before, during and long after responding to an incident.
In order to help the helpers, ensuring each and every firefighter's safety from the get-go is crucial. And, ultimately, that means starting from head-to-toe.