NEWTON, NJ—Fire Chief Jason Miller and the Newton Fire Department recently purchased new SCBA Air Packs for their crews.

The Newton Fire Department has replaced their old MSA-7 air packs with new technology improved MSA-G1 air packs. “The upgrade in technology and safety features in the packs are light years ahead of what we currently have,” said Miller.

There are many reasons why the old MSA-7 air packs needed to be replaced. One cons of the old packs are that the straps would constantly fall down while the firefighters were wearing them.  The bottom back strap was a one-size fits all strap which is not convenient when every person is a different size.  Further, the mask’s voice amplifier was more muffled and made it difficult for the firefighters to hear each other during a fire search.

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A huge pro as to why the Newton Fire Department decided on the new MSA-G1 packs are that the light tubes and voice amplifiers are positioned inside of the mask. This is helpful so that when the firefighters are crawling around, they are not breaking the amplifiers off of their masks and they are able to see the lights when their air supply gets low.

Another big difference from the old MSA-7 pack is that the MSA-G1 pack’s voice system cancels out the breathing so that when speaking through it all you hear is a clear voice. Also, the mask visibility is 360 degrees, the battery is currently six C cell batteries as opposed to the AA or AAA batteries that the old packs used. However, MSA is working on getting a rechargeable lithium battery for the packs.

While the new packs have a heavier bottle, which Miller says is the only con, their technology is more advanced than Miller imagined. “The new packs have the capability of having a wireless heads up display with light tubes that will let the firefighter know when they are running low on air: green light- full, yellow light-low, red flashing light-almost out. With that, the new packs can figure out how much air you have and taking the rate at which the firefighter is breathing, it can compute how much longer the firefighter will have air for.”

The feature that is most useful is the LED light that is positioned right above the buddy breather. By having the LED light there, even in the darkest of conditions, if a firefighter runs out of air, another firefighter can see where they need to plug in a rescue bottle to help them. This feature alone could save many lives when faced with a situation of a down firefighter.

“There are at least a dozen upgrades and designs that we in the fire department definitely need and they can very easily save our lives,” said Miller. The new MSA-G1 packs that the department purchased are the basic models. The packs are to be thought of as blank slates, the company can come in at any time and update them with the latest technology so that the department always has the most up to date equipment.