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  1. #1
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    Angry MSA Airpacks & Batteries

    Has anyone been having trouble with MSA SCBA's eating batteries and
    display errors?
    We put into service 12 new MMR/Firehawk 4500 PR14 packs in March of
    2008 and have been replacing batteries all the time. it seems like it has been getting worse as time goes by. we are a volunteer Dept. have around 70 calls a year (Fire & Extraction) and do a monthly maintaince check on all trucks and equipment and there are @ least 2-3 of our paks with dead batteries. and now some of the displays have error messages on them when they have that the pass does not work. we have been in contact with our salesman on this issue and they have been taking care of the error issues by takeing them in for repair. we are trying to get these paks all replaced now as we almost need a weekly check of them to be sure they will work when needed. just worndering if anyone else has had this kind of issue with MSA packs and what was done about it. I can't complain about our salesman as they are taking care of us on this but the battery issue is a crazy. we even tryed every brand of battery out there and still same out come. any know issues to bring up to MSA about?


  2. #2
    Forum Member len1582's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rrlyons View Post
    Has anyone been having trouble with MSA SCBA's eating batteries and
    display errors?
    We put into service 12 new MMR/Firehawk 4500 PR14 packs in March of
    2008 and have been replacing batteries all the time. it seems like it has been getting worse as time goes by. we are a volunteer Dept. have around 70 calls a year (Fire & Extraction) and do a monthly maintaince check on all trucks and equipment and there are @ least 2-3 of our paks with dead batteries. and now some of the displays have error messages on them when they have that the pass does not work. we have been in contact with our salesman on this issue and they have been taking care of the error issues by takeing them in for repair. we are trying to get these paks all replaced now as we almost need a weekly check of them to be sure they will work when needed. just worndering if anyone else has had this kind of issue with MSA packs and what was done about it. I can't complain about our salesman as they are taking care of us on this but the battery issue is a crazy. we even tryed every brand of battery out there and still same out come. any know issues to bring up to MSA about?
    That's one thing you should do, a weekly check. Even every other week is better than once a month especially when you know there's an equipment issue that needs to be addressed. An axe, pike pole, even a length of hose can break at a fire, but if an SCBA malfunctions it can be life threatening.

    Ask MSA what brand of battery they recommend.

    The fact you don't have a very large call volume is even more of a reason to check everything more frequently. Some things don't break overnight, it might take some time. Like a battery or SCBA bottle slowly draining down.

  3. #3
    Forum Member GVFD5's Avatar
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    Never had a problem with our MSA firehawks. We love them in our vol. dept. The only time I have noticed battery issues is if the guys forget to turn the display off when they put the pack away. I have seen it in the heads up display and voice amplifiers on the masks as well but only if they are not turned off before being put away. I agree also that this is something that needs to be looked at more often than once a month.

    Good Luck

    Stay safe

    FD5
    "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

    "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

  4. #4
    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    We change our batteries in the ICM's quarterly, never have had a problem between battery exchanges. ICMs do enter "Error 88" often and have to be swapped out and the ICM sent back to MSA for rebuild. If you have your own airpack repair team or in an agreement with a department that does it is a simple 2 minute fix.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

  5. #5
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    We are doing a weekly check now on the packs. and we have asked and are using the recomended battery in them. we do not have the voice amplifiers just the heads up display. all it would say on the display was ER. when we have this error you are not able to turn off the packs all you can do is take the batterys out of it. we had one pack that we checked had dead batterys
    which were replaced about three days earlier I then replaced them again check everything which worked ok. I then shut the air valve off relieved the pressure and turnd the pack off put it back into the truck. about 2 hours later while still down @ the station a pass alarm started going off which it was from that same pack. it was @ this time turned on some how. so I shut it back down took it out of service while I was carrying to the table it turn back on again. which this pack is into MSA now to be checked
    is this what is happening to the other of our packs and running down the batterys ???????????????
    I was just worndering if anyone else has been having this kind of trouble with these packs.

  6. #6
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    We have 2008 model year Firehawk M7s and have also had the battery life issues (but nothing with the ICM showing errors.)

    MSA has a service bulletin on this. Our vendor changed out part of the electronics but we have had only a slight improvement in battery life.

    We check our SCBA weekly. Write the date on the batteries when you swap them out so you have documentation on how fast the batteries are being run down. We were going through a set of batteries each month. Since they worked on them, it's a little better, but still need new batteries every 2 months or so.

    If you get a solution or more info, please post here and I'll do the same.
    "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." - Vince Lombardi

  7. #7
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    we have not had any troubles .......we change our batteries when we are supposed to do them with the smoke detectors..........when the time changes.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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  8. #8
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    Default Msa

    RRlyons,

    Hey Brother. Well, my Vol. Dept also uses MSA. There are an older model. Mfg'ed, about 6-7 years ago. BUT, they were referbed last year and when that happened, they placed new Remote pressue gauges/PASS devices on the packs. They suck. The batteries are going dead all the time. I'm not a fan of the MSA's anyway. And this does not help thier cause any. So, in answer to your question...YES, others are having this issue.

    Stay Safe Brother.
    "FBHF"

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    "What do Cops and Firefighters have in common? They BOTH WANT To be FIREFIGHTERS!"

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  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber npfd801's Avatar
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    We have six year old MSA Firehawks. Batteries are a constant issue, but we just figure it's a price of doing business. We have had the best luck with Duracell Procells from the local Batteries Plus. They love us for the amount of batteries we buy, and we buy in case quantity which helps.

    My biggest beef with the MSA is the absolute POS mounting system for the HUDs. I'll bet I have two dozen broken HUDs that still function fine, but the plastic is broken at the mounting tab. Even the new version that uses two AA batteries instead of the AAA's with the supposedly "better" and beefier mounting area is not immune to breakage.

    We get a lot of the Error 88s on the packs as well. Amazing how many of our ICMs have had this issue as well.
    "Share your knowledge - it's a way to achieve immortality." - Stolen from Chase Sargent's Buddy to Boss program

  10. #10
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    And that gentlemen is why Scott is numero uno.

    The department I'm now on has MSA's. All of the guys there wish we had Scott, but we make due with what we have.

  11. #11
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    my department has been running msn firehawks for as long as i can remember and the only issue we have had as far as battieries is the (like was said above) people dont turn the mask off or dont turn the pass off. also check how they are mounted in the truck it could be as simple as the door hitting the pass device and setting it off

    hope this helps

    be good be safe
    We walk where the devil dances... FIR NA TINE

  12. #12
    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    I have ZERO expirience with these packs, but how exactly would you be able to leave the PASS device on without it going off and letting everyone know?
    Career Firefighter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

  13. #13
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    First, let me say that we are Scott users, so I cannot speak specifically to the MSA issue.
    But doesn't it seem unsettling that we place so much faith in a 9v battery? I remember using the Scott 4.5 when it had nothing electroinc on it. Reliable as a boat anchor. Use it, wash it off with the 1 3/4" line before putting it back on the engine and it was going to be there and was going to work perfectly the next time you wanted it.

    The addition of the integrated PASS device is probably the most important improvement of the SCBA in my opinion. While this is an electronic device, it has been pretty simple and durable since inception. I'm as guilty as anyone of forgetting to turn on the PASS device when it was an added component. I like the fact that when the cylinder is turned on, so is the PASS.

    Once we went to the heads up display and whatever other battery powered stuff we have added, the reliability of our SCBA seems to have declined. You can't hose them off with the handline, and if the MMR happens to get the door slammed on it, it's gone. Battery issues seem to be the norm, regardless of how often you use the SCBA or who makes them.

    I just don't think that relying upon all of these electronic features is a good thing. Electricity and water just don't mix. I would rather trust the remote pressure gauge anyday over a heads up IF the addition of the heads up is going to be the equivalent of putting a pair of silk panties on the old reliable Scott.......

  14. #14
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    I don't know for sure the age of our packs. We had battery isues and replaced the ICMs with upgraded ones cost was $300 this took care of alot of the problem. We were also having false alarms on the pass. Also I agree with the HUDS, of course none of this is warranty. Talk to you dealer because at the tiime the ICMs were negotiable.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by len1582 View Post
    Ask MSA what brand of battery they recommend.
    While it seems trivial, this can be a bigger issue than what you think. We were having problems with our Scott packs going through batteries like they were candy. We were even using one of the models that they recommended. After talking with one of the guys from Scott, we swapped to another one on their list and haven't had near the problems.

    I don't know how MSA packs work, but I do know there are several brands of packs where the PASS system doesn't totally shut down. They still use a small amount of energy for the system that detects the air pressure to activate the pass. It will go dormant, but never turns off.

  16. #16
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    As some of the comments about them maybe getting bumped while in the truck and coming on. these units will only come on once you turn on the air valve. we dont have any turn off for the hud (ours is only led no voice amplifiers ) once you turn off the air bottle then bleed the pressure from the regulator and push the button on the side of the pass twice we get beeps then read out says off and hud lights blink and go out.
    I also agree we used to have scott and some survive air packs. just plane old AIR PACKS (turn them on /strap them on your back/and go) and hopefully you remember to turn your pass on before you entered.

    And sure even if they happen to be dead or dye out on you while in use they will still work fine (except for the pass alarm) which is the most important thing needed if and when S*** happens. the buddy breathing hook ups and or quick fill (rit) is great If you know where or can find a downed man

    it just makes me mad as H** that everyone is going to all this electronic crap (or being forced to have it) when it is not reliable. sure some things are great that they are coming out with (instant pass on when pak pressurizd)
    it sure seems not only on this site that there is some issues with these packs. we talked about maybe going back to the old clip on pass system for a back up ??? as we gave all our old ones along with the paks to a dept. on our county that was in need of upgadeing theres. kind of wish we had them back @ times.

  17. #17
    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    RRLYONS, I will be at work tomorrow and am an MSA CARE repair tech. Send me the model number on the ICM and I'll look through the MSA publications.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

  18. #18
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    FiremanLyman thanks for looking into this the model #'s on all 12 of our packs is
    7-2183-1 (hope this is the # you are wanting)
    Like I said above we have no complaints with our salesman or any service we have been getting on the ones that have had error on the digital read outs
    but this battery issue seams alittle extreme. I'm sure our salesman is getting
    or @ least should be getting something from MSA if there is any possible issues with there packs.

    Look @ Toyota I know some car manufactures have recalls and some minor issues that they don't recall but if a vehicle comes in with this trouble it is covered but they don't issue a mandatory recall as long as its still in the warranty period. On something like this (air Packs) I would hope to think that a manufacture would not operate like this when lives depend on them.

  19. #19
    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    Our MSA Firehawks seem to be working pretty well for us. No battery problems here, we change them twice a year or when needed. We have had some problems with the Heads Up Displays coming off the masks. Mine came off as I fell through a floor and the mask got ripped off my face but some guys have either just broken off or fallen off. I never used the thing anyway, if I need to check my pressure I just look at the gauge so when I told the Chief that it was no longer on my mask I told him to save the money rather than replace it.
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  20. #20
    Forum Member FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    RRLYONS-

    The M7 Control Module 7-2183-1 is avalible with several options (thermal sensor, Quick Fill, and Radio Transmitter). Either way they should act the same way.

    Few trouble shooting ideas. The battery plate, insure that the O-ring is intact iside the plate, water build up would be bad. Also you can have a trained service person remove the control module from the high pressure line and check for corrosion (could indicate moisture in the pack, bottle or fill station).

    The reccomended batteries are Duracell MN1500 or Energizer E91. MSA warns other batteries can effect perfomance and viod safety approval.

    The Error messages, on the ICM TxR they give a code. Without a code number, the only option is to replace and send back to manufactuer. The Error message should come up when the pack is charged, but will not turn off unless batteries are removed. This could have been the problem with them going off on their own (phantom), when checked the user did not note the error message and put the pack back up, since the pack does not turn off completely in Error, then the alarm later sounded.

    Hope it is as simple as the batteries or cover. Anything else needs looked at by a tech.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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