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Voice communication in the Fire Service

by Greg Preston
Voice communication in the Fire Service

Voice communication in the Fire Service is vital for firefighters and any potential victims.

“Get out, get out!”
“Man down, bring in the rescue team, 2nd floor to the left!”

In firefighting, and structural firefighting in particular, voice communication is key to the safety of first responders, the support teams and, of course, any potential victims. With limited visibility due to smoke, the complexity of structures, the level of adrenaline and stress, it is crucial that the first responders are able to communicate efficiently with each other and with their incident command.

There have been too many situations where firefighters were caught out during an incident and could not be saved because they had no reliable way to communicate their situation. One of the key elements to successful communication is audio quality. Audio quality is the clarity and intelligibility of the speech and the ability to understand and be understood in every situation. Messages need to be clear and not distorted by the environment or the equipment used during the operation. High-quality microphones are important, as are the quality, integration and position of the speaker modules.

MSA’s range of helmet-mounted communication headsets,designed in connection with the market leading Gallet F1XF, provide unmatched speech quality. In particular, the flexible microphone headset with its unique adjustable microphone (to be used with or without BA face piece) has been extremely well received by our customers.

It can be connected to MSA’s rugged push-to-talk module or, if more flexibility is needed, to our HandyCom remote speaker microphone (RSM). The RSM is an excellent option when communication is also needed without using the fire helmet, and the HandyCom is very appreciated for its robustness and ease of use.

As an example, each of the 7000 helmets MSA delivered to the Fire Rescue New South Wales firefighters (Australia) a few months ago was fitted with a flexible microphone headset and HandyCom RSMs were supplied to connect to the customer’s radios.

In addition, MSA’s range of accessories offers interfacing to a very large number of radios, with the capability to develop new interfaces when needed by customers. In particular, some configurations are fully ATEX approved for use with intrinsically safe radios in OGP environments in particular.

In conclusion, voice communication is a clear priority for most fire services around the world today. And MSA is able to provide efficient and reliable voice communication accessories to enable safer working conditions for structural firefighters.

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