Safety products manufacturer MSA Africa notes that it is the first company to have developed and introduced the wireless Alpha Personal Network System with gas detector onto the fire market in South Africa, which is to be used in tandem with telemetric systems.
MSA Africa respiratory and fire helmets product manager Suraksha Mohun tells Engineering News that, in an effort to create awareness around the capabilities of the system, MSA went on a roadshow across the country last year, visiting municipalities and private and government fire departments, educating them on the safety benefits of the Alpha Personal Network System.
“The Alpha Personal Network System is an electronic personal monitoring and alarm system designed specifically for firefighters but can also be used in manufacturing plants where the air is too toxic to breathe. “[As] a result of the system’s versatility, it can be used as a standalone system or in conjunction with a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA),” she explains.
The Alpha Personal Network System monitors the movement and breathable air of rescue personnel, so as to ensure a high level of safety for emergency teams. The system hardware is fireproof and designed to withstand the hostile environment of emergency fire rescue operations.
The system also boasts high receiver sensitivity, which Mohun notes is highly reliable as its signal allows for effective communication within a range of up to 4 km. The system is also able to automatically select an available channel, through a licence-free 866 MHz frequency. It not only displays the actual gas levels, but is also capable of giving a warning when an acceptable safety limit is breached.
“An advantage of the system is that it can be used for tracking an individual. “A motion alarm or a manual alarm is sounded when a person, such as a firefighter, is indisposed and is in a position where he or she needs to call for assistance. The motion alarm will sound after 23 seconds and has four distinctive tones that will be communicated to the control room,” she points out.
The system comprises monitoring and telemetry components, namely the alphaMITTER, alphaHUD, alphaSCOUT and alphaBASE software.
The alphaSCOUT is a pressure gauge, mini computer, motion sensor and alarm that calculates the remaining service time, based on the user’s breathing rate. “This unit is a long-range communicator also known as the brain of the system,” says Mohun.
The alphaMITTER is a short-range transmitter attached to an SCBA, which converts pressure into a digital numeric value communicating to the alphaSCOUT.
The alphaHUD is able to deliver a visual optical signal when used in conjunction with the alphaSCOUT , alphaMITTER and the alphaBASE – the receiving station – command communication option. The alphaBASE can be used with AlphaControl 2 software on a Windows Explorer tablet, personal computer or laptop.
Mohun notes that, by continuously improving its products, MSA Africa aims to use this technology to make the lives of firefighters safer and their jobs easier.