MSA's Next-Generation Breathing Apparatus for Firefighters First to Receive Full NFPA Approval

PITTSBURGH , Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- MSA (NYSE: MSA), the world's leading developer of sophisticated safety equipment, today announced that its FireHawk M7 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) has been certified as meeting new...


PITTSBURGH , Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- MSA (NYSE: MSA), the world's leading developer of sophisticated safety equipment, today announced that its FireHawk M7 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) has been certified as meeting new rigorous performance requirements adopted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The FireHawk M7 Air Mask is the first device of its kind to receive NFPA approval on both its breathing apparatus and Personal Alert Safety System (PASS), which is an SCBA component that sounds a loud, piercing alarm whenever a firefighter becomes disabled or lies motionless for 30 seconds.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070911/NETU086 )

To receive certification for NFPA 1981: 2007 edition, which applies to the breathing apparatus, and NFPA 1982: 2007 edition, which applies to PASS devices, units must undergo a battery of tests widely considered to be the most demanding in NFPA history. Most notable among these tests is a high- temperature functionality test, which requires PASS devices to emit a 95- decibel alarm at temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The PASS Alarm on the FireHawk M7 Air Mask, which is the only PASS Alarm currently approved by the NFPA, was developed by MSA with input from third- party acoustic experts and utilizes patent-pending technology to meet NFPA requirements.

"We estimate that 95 percent of all Air Masks sold in the United States are equipped with an integrated PASS device," said Ron Herring , MSA Vice President of Global Product Leadership. "Given the fact that improved PASS performance and the resulting higher level of firefighter protection was the driving force behind the new NFPA standards, we are especially proud to be the first SCBA manufacturer to achieve this level of certification."

In addition to more stringent performance requirements for PASS devices, the new NFPA standards establish higher benchmarks for electronics durability, which is more important than ever given the level of advanced technology found in today's units.

Mr. Herring noted that the FireHawk M7 Air Mask was designed based on substantial customer feedback and field focus group studies. Overall, MSA gathered input and conducted interviews from hundreds of active firefighters, representing a strong "voice of the customer" influence into the MSA design. "Firefighters have been waiting for this day for some time," Mr. Herring said. "They have, in a manner of speaking, voiced their own approval of our new Air Mask design. Firefighters are excited about the new safety features available in the FireHawk M7 model, and we're certainly excited to be able to provide them."

With a finalized design that fully meets the NFPA standards, and with the NFPA certification process now complete, Mr. Herring said the company now has the green light to ramp-up related manufacturing processes and supply-chain logistics. He added the company will also begin assisting fire departments with field evaluations of the new apparatus. "Now that the designs and materials are locked-in, we can focus our operations team on achieving a smooth and rapid transition from testing and certification to serial production, while our sales team can concentrate on what they do best - demonstrating the remarkable advancements of this great new SCBA system," Mr. Herring said.

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