Government error forces launch delay for new MSA masks

MSA, a Pittsburgh-based safety equipment manufacturer, recently announced that errors made by the U.S. government when testing and certified respirators will delay the anticipated certification and introduction of a new self-contained breathing apparatus.

MSA and other manufacturers of self-contained breathing apparatus and respirators received notification on November 21 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that errors were made when testing and verifying respirators. NIOSH will reevaluate respirators and SCBA that were previously certified since July 2012.

While MSA does not have any respiratory protective devices in use that are impacted by the finding, the certification of new products will be delayed by at least 90 days. The delay will impact MSA's FireHawk M7XT breathing apparatus and the introduction of MSA's next generation SCBA platform.

"Naturally, the (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) test issue is a disappointing development for the launch and timing of our exciting new product platforms," Nish Vartanian, the president of MSA North America, said. "We are, however, pleased that MSA's existing units, and those currently in production, are not affected by the NIOSH announcement."

Due to the error, MSA anticipates the certification of new SCBA will be delayed until the second quarter of 2014. Vartanian said the delay will also impact the approval status of its entirely new global platform product.

"What makes this situation particularly challenging is the fact that the certification process had already been delayed once this year because of funding and staffing constraints resulting from the federal government's budget sequestration, which began in March," Vartanian said. "They were then delayed further by the government shutdown in September. The cumulative impact of all this is that no SCBA manufacturer has a breathing apparatus certified to the latest NFPA standards. The CBRN test issue further complicates an already complex situation for SCBA manufacturers and fire departments across the country."

MSA still plans to showcase the design of its new global platform product at the Fire Department Instructors Conference in April in Indianapolis.