SCBA Manufacturers Roundtable

AVON-ISI Ernie Younkins SCBA Product Manager Avon-ISI FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard? YOUNKINS: Avon-ISI is introducing a new model in our Viking series for the new NFPA standard...


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AVON-ISI

Ernie Younkins
SCBA Product Manager
Avon-ISI

FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard?

YOUNKINS: Avon-ISI is introducing a new model in our Viking series for the new NFPA standard. The new model is the Viking Z Seven. The Viking Z Seven has numerous changes that offer unique features never available before. Some of these features are not part of the NFPA standard, but are features that our customers have asked for to make the SCBA easier to use during a call.

The new Viking Z Seven offers an adjustable VAS with 10 presets that adjust the voice amplification internal microphone inside the nosecup. This technology eliminates most breathing noise without degrading communications quality. The amplification system can be turned off manually, but will always be activated any time the cylinder valve is opened or when other electronic features, such as PASS (personal alert safety system) and HUD (heads-up display), are turned on. In addition, we improved the lower cylinder support bracket to eliminate motion to within one inch, which satisfies the 1981 (SCBA) standard.

We have made numerous changes to meet the new NFPA 1982 (PASS) standard. To start, we redesigned PASS from a blank page. The PASS had to meet several new requirements such as the new heat saturation and submersion test. Because of the Avon-ISI Viking PASS design, our Viking line has always had to undergo a complete submersion to meet the PASS standard, even for the NFPA 2002 edition. However, for the new 2007 edition, the SCBA is heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes and then submersed in five feet of water for 15 minutes. Heating the PASS creates a positive pressure inside the PASS and submersing it creates a negative pressure that tries to draw water inside the PASS container. This test must be repeated six times and on the last test, the batteries are removed to ensure that the battery compartment is sealed from the electronic board.

In yet another test, the PASS is heated to 500F for five minutes and the alarm is activated. The alarm must be at least 95 db. To meet this standard, we developed a new alarm that could withstand the temperature without the alarm deteriorating below the 95-db levels. It was quite a challenge to do. We also have a new PASS data-logging system that can be downloaded wirelessly within seconds to recover any information stored in memory such as PASS activation, time-of-alarm and time SCBA was turned on or off.

FIREHOUSE: What, if any, changes are you making to facepieces and visual displays?

YOUNKINS: Our current nosecup did not have to be changed to meet the new CO2 requirements, but we wanted to make changes to improve the comfort and in doing so reduced the CO2 buildup.

FIREHOUSE: Are you making changes or requirements to communications devices, locating devices or monitoring of high heat, cylinder air or any other data from units to remote sites such as command posts?

YOUNKINS: Avon-ISI has always used a voice-amplification system as a standard feature of the Viking and the new Viking Z Seven is no exception. Two years ago, Avon-ISI developed a new air-management system that transmits cylinder pressure, real-time temperature and PASS status from the SCBA to an outside command center. The command center will receive updates in seconds on any changes from the SCBA, and will alarm when cylinder pressure, temperature or time-in-fire exceed pre-set parameters. This system allows command to recall individuals or all firefighters on scene. Each system can support 32 firefighters.

FIREHOUSE: What will the new standard mean to manufacturers and emergency responders?

YOUNKINS: The new standard will make SCBA more robust for the fire service. The new electronics will sustain more heat and be better protected from water damage. Our new PASS will still be serviceable, allowing board replacement and future upgrades through our new wireless network.

DRAEGER

George Blank
Marketing Manager
Protection Products
Draeger Safety Inc.

FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard?

BLANK: Draeger has developed an entirely new SCBA called the PSS 7000 to meet this new standard. This includes:

  • New FPS 7000 facepiece with the first fully integrated communication system.
  • The FPS 7000 facepiece comes in three distinct sizes.
  • Fully articulated backplate with multiple torso size adjustments to fit the shortest as well as the tallest firefighter.
  • A totally new harness design using the latest technology in harness material. The harness material is a vulcanized elasomeric material (VEM) providing excellent fire-retardant, wear-resistant and non-slip properties.
  • New smart electronics providing cylinder pressure, real time to warning alarm, HUD refresher and demand buttons, and new high-temperature PASS device.
  • New compact CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) second-stage regulator design.

FIREHOUSE: What, if any, changes are you making to facepieces and visual displays?

BLANK: Draeger has an all-new facepiece with wide unobstructed field of vision. The integrated communication system is fitted with two speakers supplying "surround sound" for crisp, clear communication. The mask uses Draeger's three-sizes-in-one technology with three distinct sizes along with three sizes of nosecups. New elasomeric and fabric form fitting hair nets were also designed for the new mask. Draeger's new wireless HUD system is fully protected inside the mask. A unique feature of our HUD is that both the user and their partners can easily see the HUD display. The new Draeger HUD system has twice the battery life.

FIREHOUSE: Are you making changes or requirements to communications devices, locating devices or monitoring of high heat, cylinder air or any other data from units to remote sites such as command posts?

BLANK: Draeger has designed an all-new communications system that is fully integrated into facepiece. The communications system provides voice amplification and a radio interface to suit the individual fire departments requirements. We (Draeger) see communications as one of the most important issues for the fire industry and we plan to add even more innovative features in the way of communications for the fire fighter in the near future. Our new Sentinel 7000, coupled with our Merlin monitoring system, monitors and reports a number of key items. The Merlin system monitors the firefighter's air pressure, time to warning, time under air and time of warning. The Merlin system also has two-way warning and evacuation communications built in. All of the warning systems in the Merlin are both visual and audible.

FIREHOUSE: What will the new standard mean to manufacturers and emergency responders?

BLANK: An easy-to-use, rugged, reliable SCBA incorporating the latest in technology.

MSA

Mike Rupert
Product Group Manager, First Responder Products

MSA

FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard?

RUPERT: To meet NFPA 1981, the only significant change for MSA is the HUD enclosure to meet the new heat/immersion test. The MSA air delivery system will remain unchanged. To meet NFPA 1982, the MSA PASS has been redesigned primarily to meet the heat/immersion and high-temperature alarm tests.

FIREHOUSE: What, if any, changes are you making to facepieces and visual displays?

RUPERT: The visual display of the MSA HUD will remain virtually identical. Firefighter feedback indicated a high level of satisfaction with the MSA HUD, due to its auto-dim feature (adjusting the HUD intensity with ambient light conditions) and optional continuous or intermittent modes of operation.

FIREHOUSE: Are you making changes or requirements to communications devices, locating devices or monitoring of high heat, cylinder air or any other data from units to remote sites such as command posts?

RUPERT: MSA is not making any changes to these components with our initial introduction. The MSA ICM TxR accountability system has had high acceptance by the fire service since being introduced. The MSA accountability system can monitor up to 100 firefighters for air, alarm and thermal status, and provides a two-way evacuate-and-acknowledge feature. The MSA system also enables incident commanders to monitor users who are not wearing an SCBA or who are wearing an alternate brand of SCBA. The built-in PAR timer, audible alarms and visual-interface make the system easy and intuitive to use.

FIREHOUSE: What will the new standard mean to manufacturers and emergency responders?

RUPERT: The new standard raises the bar on electronics reliability and performance in the fire service to better protect firefighters. It helps protect firefighters against brands or models of PASS devices that may have lost or greatly reduced sound output due to heat, water or impact conditions during use.

SCOTT

David Trivette
Product Line Manager
Scott Health & Safety

FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard?

TRIVETTE: Scott has always prided itself on staying ahead of standards and end-user market requirements and we continue that tradition with the introduction of the Air-Pak 75 and NxG7 SCBA. In addition, to product enhancements required for compliance on the SCBA electronics, and in response to voice of the customer, we have added several other non-standard required features to the SCBA:

  • Drag Rescue Loop (DRL) — this gives a rapid intervention team (RIT) or rescuer a quick and easy attachment point on the downed firefighter's SCBA harness to quickly drag them to safety.
  • Encasing all the electronics in a sealed housing not only meets the standard; it exceeds it with better battery management.
  • An angled gauge on the console along with a constant-on backlight allows the firefighter to better read their remaining air pressure. And since the gauge is mechanical, no matter what happens to the electronics, the firefighter will always know how much air they have left in their tank.
  • Handles have now been integrated into the back frame of the Air-Pak 75 SCBA, which allows the firefighter the ability to don the unit over the head or a means to simply carry the unit.
  • We have streamlined the first-stage regulator of the Air-Pak 75 SCBA, which has improved "hose management" from the Air-Pak Fifty SCBA.

FIREHOUSE: What, if any, changes are you making to facepieces and visual displays?

TRIVETTE: We enhanced our facepieces to include incorporating a new nosecup design in the Scott AV-2000 and AV-3000 facepiece. By streamlining the nosecup in both the AV-2000 and AV-3000, we increased wearer visibility, comfort and added an industry-first finish to the nosecup, which makes it feel as if it were not even there.

The heads-up display (HUD) was also modified to meet customer demands. We added a photo-sensing diode to the electronics that dims the HUD in 10 distinct increments depending on the ambient light source, so in full sunlight the HUD is at its brightest and in low to no ambient light the HUD is dimmed. Again, this enhancement was not driven by the standard, but rather from user feedback.

FIREHOUSE: Are you making changes or requirements to communications devices, locating devices or monitoring of high heat, cylinder air or any other data from units to remote sites such as command posts?

TRIVETTE: The Scott AV-2000 and AV-3000 facepieces utilized on the Air-Pak 75 and NXG7 SCBA exceed the requirements of the new standard for voice intelligibility without the use of a voice amplifier. As an output of voice of the customer, we will also offer to first responders a new person-to-person, robust EPIC voice amplifier as an approved accessory that was designed to meet and exceed the new standard for voice intelligibility. This option provides the user the choice of either deploying the facepieces with or without voice amplification as their needs and applications evolve.

Additionally, the new Air-Pak 75 and NXG7 SCBA platforms include the ability to add an optional SCBA-integrated Pak-Tracker firefighter locator system. The Pak-Tracker firefighter locator system is a distress alarm system designed to help locate downed, trapped or lost first responders in single- or multi-story structures.

As part of the NFPA 1982 Standard for PASS devices, the Air-Pak 75 and NXG7 SCBA will have on-board capability to data-log the most current 2000 events such as cylinder activation and PASS functions. The time/date-stamped information can be easily and non-intrusively downloaded wirelessly via the Pak-Link for record keeping.

FIREHOUSE: What will the new standard mean to manufacturers and emergency responders?

TRIVETTE: The new standard will continue to drive manufacturers to design and produce more robust SCBA to withstand the extreme conditions that first responders realistically encounter on a daily basis; a long-standing practice that Scott Health and Safety has employed since the initial introduction of the Air-Pak SCBA back in 1946. Of course, to the first responder community, they will be evaluating and procuring the latest SCBA designs that meet and or exceed the most current industry standards and product approvals.

SURVIVAIR

Steve Weinstein
Senior Product Manager, SCBA
Survivair Respirators Inc.

FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard?

WEINSTEIN: Rather than just updating the existing Panther SCBA, Survivair has developed the Warrior — an entirely new model based on direct firefighter input. The Warrior incorporates a completely new backpack, with many exciting, innovative features that provide unsurpassed mobility and comfort. It has a swiveling and pivoting mechanism that allows the backpack automatically to maintain the proper weight distribution and balance, whether the firefighter is standing vertically, bending over, or crawling. There are three handles and carabiner attachment points for firefighter extrication; they'll withstand up to 1,000 pounds of pull force.

Electronic components — such as the audible alarms and visual displays of the rear-mounted portion of Survivair's new PASS device; a visual low-air alarm; a battery status indicator; and the optional Survivair Pathfinder firefighter locating system — are integrated into the SCBA, providing an uncluttered, snag-free profile. The first-stage pressure reducer is protected inside the backpack, and the audible low-air alarm (a choice of a bell, plain whistle or warbling whistle) has been moved toward the top of the backpack, near the user's ear, and is also protected. All in all, the Warrior is an SCBA that has been designed to address specific needs of firefighters.

In addition, sometime in mid- to late 2008, the Panther will be updated to meet the 2007 edition of NFPA 1981 so that existing Panther users can upgrade to current compliance. Survivair will be offering both the Warrior and the updated Panther as 2007-compliant models.

FIREHOUSE: What, if any, changes are you making to facepieces and visual displays?

WEINSTEIN: The only change to the very successful Twenty-Twenty Plus facepiece is the addition of a permanent anti-fog coating on the interior of the lens. The conventional heads-up display (HUD) mounted on the second-stage regulator has not changed. As mentioned above, many other visual components are either new or newly integrated into the Warrior backpack.

In 2008, Survivair will offer an optional digital LCD HUD that will provide the user with even more information: an analog bar graph with disappearing segments to show relative pressure, digital pressure in psig, low-battery status and air time remaining in minutes, based on the user's own work rate and air consumption.

FIREHOUSE: Are you making changes or requirements to communications devices, locating devices or monitoring of high heat, cylinder air or any other data from units to remote sites such as command posts?

WEINSTEIN: Survivair will be offering a new, high-performance voice amplifier and a new wireless radio communication system, which eliminates the need for a radio interface cable. The PASS device will maintain the current option of a heat alarm. The optional Survivair Pathfinder firefighter locating system will be integrated into the Warrior SCBA, as mentioned above, but with three Beacons (ultrasound transmitters), rather than the Panther's current two.

In 2008, a team radio system will be added, allowing firefighters to communicate within their own team without having to tie up the common radio channel. A telemetry system will also be introduced in 2008 to provide departments with state-of-the-art air management, accountability and tactical management tools for incident command.

FIREHOUSE: What will the new standard mean to manufacturers and emergency responders?

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