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Boston Fire Department invests in new safety equipment

October 28, 2016

Fire Prevention

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Fire Prevention

Boston firefighters are converting to state-of-the-art respiratory protective equipment and SCBA technology.

BOSTON - Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn today announced the provision of new, enhanced protective equipment for Boston firefighters. The City of Boston and MSA Safety Incorporated released a $4.5 million joint contract to provide state-of-the-art respiratory equipment and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) technology to the Boston Fire Department, which will replace the current equipment that has been in use.

"Boston firefighters put their lives on the line every day to keep the City of Boston safe, and this new respiratory equipment will help ensure their safety on the job," said Mayor Walsh. "Cancer, carbon monoxide poisoning and other physical injuries are serious threats to our firefighters. This technology is a significant upgrade for our first responders, and I thank MSA Safety Incorporated for partnering with us to make Boston firefighters, and the entire City of Boston, safer."

This technology is a significant upgrade for our first responders, and I thank MSA Safety Incorporated for partnering with us to make Boston firefighters, and the entire City of Boston, safer.

Mayor Walsh

Concern over the health and well-being of firefighters when exposed to dangerous heat and toxins prompted the Boston Fire Department to evaluate alternative protective equipment and SCBA technology. The Boston Fire Department's Training Division decided to upgrade to G1 SCBA after conducting an extensive and comprehensive evaluation process with the support of Boston Firefighters Local 718 IAFF (International Association of Firefighters).

For the Boston Fire Department (BFD), the new SCBA technology supports the department's many efforts to lower the long-term threat of cancer among firefighters, as well the number of annual joint and muscular injuries sustained by firefighters on the job.

"Since 1990, more than 160 Boston firefighters have died from cancer, and every year another 20 firefighters are diagnosed with the disease. The department has also seen more than 150 neck and shoulder injuries in a calendar year," said Commissioner Finn. "These statistics were a key factor in the department's decision to deploy new practices and evaluate new protective equipment, and we're working to emphasize the need to wear protective equipment after a fire has been extinguished, and to properly clean that equipment to reduce additional exposure risks."

In 2014, Commissioner Finn established the department's first Safety, Health and Wellness Division with a goal of making Boston a model department as it relates to the health and well-being of its more than 1,450 firefighters. This initiative is part of that division's goal to deploy new tactics and using new equipment that improve the overall health, safety and welfare of firefighters.

Unlike conventional designs, the G1 SCBA has no electronics on its facepiece.  In addition, the unit's unique ergonomic design, combined with an adjustable waist belt and wide shoulder straps, allows more SCBA weight to be carried on a firefighter's hips. Collectively, these features make the SCBA more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.

In addition to these innovations, the G1 SCBA includes improved voice amplification and a "Central Power" unit that powers the entire SCBA from a single, rechargeable battery compartment.  It also comes equipped with darkness- and smoke-piercing "buddy lights" that provide visible indicators, from any angle, of critical air supply data.

About MSA

Established in 1914, MSA Safety Incorporated is the global leader in the development, manufacture and supply of safety products that protect people and facility infrastructures.  Many MSA products integrate a combination of electronics, mechanical systems and advanced materials to protect users against hazardous or life-threatening situations. For more information visit MSA's website.