Sponsored by MSA Safety
By Sarah Calams for FireRescue1 BrandFocus
In 2014, MSA Safety launched its G1 SCBA. The G1, marketed as the platform of the future, was designed with firefighters' comfort in mind. Its advanced ergonomics allow for longer wear, better situational awareness and cleanability.
Now, five years later, the platform of the future has been updated and expanded to enable supreme firefighter connectivity.
Connectivity and accountability
The Connected Firefighter platform is not one specific product. Instead, it's a suite of firefighting products that link together. The platform not only assists in keeping firefighters safe, but it also ensures that everyone – from on scene firefighters to command staff – are connected and in the know.
"This platform enables firefighter connectivity, which is something we didn't previously have," Jasmine Spencer, fire service marketing manager at MSA, said.
Connectivity, she says, is exactly what it sounds like – everyone is connected to each other.
"It helps firefighters know what's going on with themselves, the status of their fellow firefighters, making sure that dispatch or incident command – whether they're onsite or offsite – is aware of the situation," Spencer said. "It lets you know who's in distress, how much air someone has or how much time is remaining."
The platform creates a network of safety by linking the products, processes and firefighters for an overall safer fireground experience. For Spencer, that mission hit home.
"My dad was a firefighter – he started in 1979 and retired in 2003," she said. "The fire service has been in my blood since day one. It just so happens that I'm on the flip side. I'm not actually using the equipment, but I am making sure what we design and what we actually get out into the field is top-notch."
Spencer, who has been with MSA for nearly a decade and began her career as an industrial engineer, says the Connected Firefighter platform is accessible, approachable and offers accountability for everyone on scene.
Breaking down the connected firefighter platform
1. MSA Hub
The Hub, Spencer says, offers wireless accessibility.
"It allows the incident commander or battalion chief, who previously had to sit in their truck tethered to a laptop or unable to interact with their team, greater mobility," she said. "They're no longer tethered to their laptop."
The Hub also includes remote monitoring, allowing an off-scene crew member to remotely view what's happening on scene. Remote monitoring, Spencer says, can be anything from air pressure to the time remaining to who's in alarm.
The second piece of the Connected Firefighter platform is LUNAR, a wireless, handheld device. LUNAR focuses on thermal imaging, firefighter ranging and cloud technology with GPS. The thermal imaging aspect, Spencer says, is beneficial for firefighters' situational awareness.
Ranging is a new offering, but lets firefighters know who's in distress and needs help. This technology will alert incident commanders to who's down and who's searching for them – all while still having that remote monitoring piece.
"That's someone completely off scene," Spencer clarified. "Whether it's dispatch or another interested party, they can also see that same information."
In October, MSA presented a LUNAR field demo to the Boston Fire Department. The field demo, Spencer said, was presented to crews in order to receive their candid feedback on LUNAR.
"Specifically, we went through RIT rescues. We asked them about the user interface and the hardware. We really wanted their feedback on training tactics," Spencer said.
There are four major components to firegrid, a web-based platform. The components include monitoring, reporting, inventory management and maintenance.
- Monitoring: This can be local monitoring, which would be an incident commander on scene, or it could be remote monitoring that's available for Hub and LUNAR.
- Reporting: This can be on device data, such as what's going on with a department's firefighting products. It also focuses on incident data like when a firefighter went into alarm and how long they were in alarm.
- Inventory management: Simply put, inventory management is all about managing the assets you have and the information associated with it. This can include things like what personnel they belong to, testing and work orders.
- Maintenance: This is more for a tech manager, who performs configurations and updates. The maintenance aspect, Spencer says, is how the company expands to a network of safety, which impacts everyone in the fire service.
Firegrid, Spencer said, would be used by a department's incident commander, who's acting as a remote monitor, fleet maintenance manager or even a training officer.
For example, firegrid allows departments to see how air is being breathed out of a cylinder. As a result, departments can offer training insights from the information received from firegrid.
In the future, firegrid will interface with each of MSA's product lines.
Giving departments, firefighters peace of mind
The Connected Firefighter platform, Spencer says, gives departments and firefighters more confidence.
"Who doesn't want more confidence for everyone on their crew? Whether it's confidence in device performance or confidence in data or decision making, this is the platform that will help you on and off scene," she said.
The functionality that the Connected Firefighter platform offers – whether it's from LUNAR, the Hub or firegrid – all work together. "And that's when the magic of the network of safety occurs, where you get added benefits and more functionality," Spencer said. "It's a better experience for everybody."
The platform, she said, gives crew members a second set of eyes on scene and creates a new level of safety.
"To me, there's nothing better than peace of mind and confidence in knowing what your status is and knowing that the decisions you're making are the right decisions, which ultimately helps keep you and your crews safe," Spencer said.
The Connected Firefighter platform, Spencer said, has helped fulfill many firefighter-specific pain points and gaps.
"It's on the cutting-edge of technology," she said. "It offers connectivity and accountability to the entire crew."