Download PDF version

Portable gas detection equipment needs to work faultlessly and in conjunction with safety best practice. Lives depend on it. But, faced with many daily demands on a safety manager’s time, maintaining compliance across a fleet of equipment is a constant challenge. Matt DeLorenzo, Business Director for Safety io (an MSA Safety Company subsidiary), explains how the Grid Fleet Manager – software service for managing fleets of portable gas detectors – helps to ensure compliance through a proactive safety approach.

If there’s one pressure that unites every safety manager in the industry, it’s battling to keep multiple plates spinning – trying to maintain rigorous safety monitoring and enforce robust Standard Operating Procedures against a backdrop of interruptions throughout the day. One of the most important areas constantly vying for attention is the need to manage complex fleets of portable gas detectors. There is the need to monitor maintenance, calibration and testing for every detector, ensuring it is completely and accurately compliant.

Gas detector fleets safety management

The fleet portfolio may be diverse, spanning both single and multi-gas detection capabilities

The administrative and management burden to ensure gas detector fleets are available, functioning correctly, ready for use and compliant cannot be underestimated. There are several obstacles to overcome. Organizations may well be using detectors in multiple locations, across multiple sites, and potentially in different countries.

The fleet portfolio may be diverse, spanning both single and multi-gas detection capabilities. Devices will inevitably be acquired or replaced. All of which means that manually tracking inventory and usage and keeping maintenance accurate is a difficult task.

Grid Fleet Manager System

For this reason, Safety io developed the Grid Fleet Manager system to provide a single point of truth. By gathering and compiling data automatically, as devices are returned and docked after use and bump tested or calibrated before use, it simplifies the management of the fleet of portable gas detection. Fleet Manager focuses on prioritizing the most important information, prominently highlighting when and where urgent action is required.

Each morning, the system sends an organization’s safety managers (and equipment maintenance partners if needed) a concise e-mail summarizing the status of the fleet at every operational location. If there are any concerns, e-mail links take users directly to view their Grid account. An intuitive fleet dashboard shows top-level, prioritized metrics and alerts, each of which can be expanded at a click to reveal granular-level detail on any device or event.

Efficient sensor and alarms operation

A common logistical challenge faced by safety managers is making sure that there is sufficient calibration gas available to both test devices and calibrate them accurately. To ensure correct sensor and alarm operation, best safety practice calls for every gas detector to be bump tested daily before use, and also calibrated monthly. If gas is unavailable, operatives cannot bump test equipment or carry out calibration, meaning that they are unable to work.

To do so would breach safety compliance legislation as devices could potentially fail to work, exposing workers to non-identifiable gas leaks. Such downtime and risk is both costly and avoidable. In response, Fleet Manager alerts safety managers when gas stocks are becoming depleted, allowing partners to proactively re-supply gas as needed before supplies expire.

Sensor alerts

Fleet Manager provides alerts on sensors that require attention so that the equipment at risk can be replaced

Over time, sensors in gas detection devices can degrade. Fleet Manager provides alerts on sensors that require attention so that the equipment at risk can either be maintained or replaced before it fails.

In addition to providing safety managers with control over their fleet, they’re also able to see – for all device serial numbers in the fleet – when, where and by whom the device was last used, when it was last tested or checked, and whether any further tests are needed.

Portable gas detection equipment

Portable gas detection equipment has come a long way in recent years. As well as providing vital early warnings about leaks, today’s advanced, portable gas detectors also gather and store invaluable data – recording critical information both about incidents and also the working practices of operatives.

This information, held locally on each device, can be downloaded when the device is docked and – ideally – properly analyzed for insights. By constantly pulling and storing data from all devices, Fleet Manager provides valuable insights to safety managers on non-safe behaviors.

Standard Operating Procedures

The system is also a key driver behind helping to achieve compliant operational practices. Whenever a gas detector issues an alarm, operatives must follow strict Standard Operating Procedures. They must acknowledge the alarm in the instrument and vacate the area. Unfortunately, real-world experience does not always reflect best practice. Some operatives may choose to ignore the alarm or even turn the device off. But with Fleet Manager, these occurrences are recorded and highlighted, allowing safety managers to identify those posing a risk, and swiftly move to re-educate or retrain them.

When it comes to streamlining device maintenance and compliance, the technology behind Fleet Manager is liberating. Safety io Grid Fleet Manager allows for a proactive approach to gas detection safety programs, allowing customers the ability to minimize distractions and put their time toward higher safety priorities, becoming more efficient and better informed in the process.

Cloud-based fleet management platform

One of the major goals was to ensure that information delivery was carefully prioritized

In the case of the latest solution platforms developed for gas detection by Safety io, they conducted many thousands of hours of customer interviews and prototype and interface testing to ensure the most meaningful and actionable value.

One of the major goals was to ensure that information delivery was carefully prioritized and that customers received the critical information they needed when most relevant. It’s also about recognizing when data is useful, while gas levels in an area may not reach compliance thresholds, the detection of a low-level anomaly can indicate whether investigative work may be warranted.

Safety io Grid Live Monitor

The result was two complementary solutions - Safety io Grid Fleet Manager, a cloud-based fleet management platform for managing the health of fixed and portable gas detection devices; and Safety io Grid Live Monitor, a real-time alert and incident management tool that tracks operatives and their status as they work.

One of the exciting opportunities MSA is embracing is the ways technology can enhance its wide safety equipment portfolio. In addition to portable gas protection devices and fixed gas and flame detection, MSA also offers Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, head protection, fall protection systems, PPE and more. The ability for technology to confer automation, intelligent reporting and data archival promises both to increase user safety and significantly reduce the current manual workload surrounding mandatory audits, reporting, compliance and inspections.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

How Technology Helps London Fire Brigade With Incident Command
How Technology Helps London Fire Brigade With Incident Command

Drones give Incident Commanders an aerial view, increasing their situational awareness of fires and helping them to develop tactics to tackle them. Station Officer Lee Newman details how the technology was implemented by London Fire Brigade and the continued benefits. Identify external risks The Grenfell Tower fire has resulted in revisions to several operational procedures and the introduction of new equipment within the Brigade. A few months after the fire, the Brigade was tasked with setting up a trial to test the feasibility of having a drone capability to identify external risks and assess building stability at incidents, providing essential safety information that could facilitate ongoing internal firefighting operations. Implement the use of drones The Brigade implemented the use of drones and acquired a Matrice 210 V1 and a Phantom 4 Working with partners who had an existing drone capability, as well as drone experts, the Brigade began work to implement the use of drones and acquired a Matrice 210 V1 and a Phantom 4 as a trainer and reserve drone. In the summer of 2018, an Emergency Services bespoke course was run by Essex Police to train the Brigade’s team of drone pilots, who were all PfCO qualified within one week. From start to finish, it took just nine months to get London Fire Brigade’s drone team operational. Working of the drones On its first day of being available for incidents, the team received an order to attend a 15-pump fire at a leisure center, which was under renovation. They were asked to confirm if there were cylinders on the roof of the building and immediately put the drone to use. The team flew and relayed the camera footage onto a large screen that was fitted into a van provided for the trial. The drone footage was able to identify, to the Incident Commander’s satisfaction, that the cylinders were actually rolls of asphalt due to be laid on the roof as part of the renovation. If the drone concept could have proven its use in one job, this was it. The information from the drone allowed the Incident Commander to decide not to make it ‘cylinders confirmed’ and saved a lot of unnecessary extra appliance movements. Applications of drone Since that first callout, the team has been to around 300 incidents of six pumps or more, including persons in the water, fires, and various missing people’s incidents both in London and into other counties, assisting police forces. From start to finish, it took just nine months to get London Fire Brigade’s drone team operational Drone inventory The Brigade’s drone capability inventory includes a Matrice 300 with an H20T dual thermal and optical camera; a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual with multi attachments; a Mavic Air 2 and a Yuneec 520. The Brigade also has a Teradek live streaming device and multiple tablets for receiving the streamed footage. The Brigade operates with two Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs – plug-in hybrid SUVs – and has split the drone equipment into two, with one vehicle carrying the drone and batteries, and the other carrying all the support kit and ancillaries. Working in dark conditions The drones are permitted to fly up to 400 ft above ground level or higher in an emergency and can fly as fast as 50 mph. They also can act as a loudspeaker to give instructions or reassurance and shine a bright spotlight in dark or low light conditions. 24/7 service The Brigade has eight pilots trained and operates a 24/7 service The Brigade has eight pilots trained and operates a 24/7 service. The team is working closely with its blue light partners, including the: Metropolitan Police Service, several search and rescue teams, and a host of fire services surrounding the capital, as well as giving advice to other upcoming drone teams around the UK. Use of drone in future The Brigade’s drone capability has been molded to how it sees the future and what it holds in the way of drone use. For example, the Brigade has developed a capability to drop water rescue aides to people at water incidents, which helps to keep them afloat long enough to be rescued. The drone can also be used alongside the swift water rescue teams to provide situational awareness of hazards and the resulting risks during the rescue phase. Delivering fire escape tools The Brigade also invested in fire escape hoods in late 2018 and has already demonstrated how one might be delivered via a drone to a balcony above the height of an aerial appliance while using the Mavic Enterprise 2 to relay instructions via the loudspeakers. These possible new uses are pushing the boundaries of the Brigade’s original concept and demonstrate how London Fire Brigade works to stay ahead of the curve. 

Chicago Bans Dogs From Firehouses, Despite Long-Held Tradition
Chicago Bans Dogs From Firehouses, Despite Long-Held Tradition

There is a long tradition of canines in the fire service, from Dalmatians riding shotgun in the fire truck to mixed breeds rescued from fires that later become the fire company mascot. The tradition has taken a hit recently in Chicago, where dogs are no longer allowed at firehouses after one station dog killed a smaller breed canine near a firehouse in the Englewood neighborhood. The incident The firehouse dog in Chicago, named Bones, was a mixed breed stray rescued off the street that was living at Engine 116 at 60th Street and Ashland Avenue. A neighbor was walking her smaller breed dog past the firehouse and watched in horror as Bones attacked and killed her small dog. After the incident, Chicago’s Acting Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt issued a department memo: “Any and all prior permissions for dogs in the fire stations or on fire apparatuses are hereby revoked … effective immediately.” Chicago Firehouse dogs Most of Chicago’s firehouse dogs are strays that were picked up and brought to firefighters by the public. Fire crews and paramedics care for the dogs, train them, feed them and get them inoculated and spayed or neutered, then ask formal permission to keep the dogs on site. Historically, permission has been granted, in effect saving the dogs from being euthanized. Breed of choice The tradition of dogs and the fire service goes back centuries, to the 1700s, when carriage dogs first trotted alongside horse-drawn fire carriages. Dalmatians were the breed of choice, given their good temperament, calming effect on the horses Dalmatians were the breed of choice, given their good temperament, calming effect on the horses, and grace under pressure. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) began utilizing Dalmatians as early as the 1870s. Dalmatians as firehouse ambassadors When motorized vehicles came on the scene, Dalmatians were already associated with firefighters, who continued to keep them on-site as firehouse residents and mascots. Increasingly, Dalmatians and other dogs became public ambassadors for firehouses and were involved in public education about fire safety and emergency preparedness for school and community groups. For example, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, a Dalmatian from Clarksville, Ark., was a character in her own set of children’s books about fire safety and traveled around the country teaching children about fire tips. reduce stress, provide comfort Currently, firehouse dogs are other breeds, too, many rescued from house fires or other tragedies. Firehouses often adopt dogs, who become symbols of resiliency, bravery, fortitude – and provide comfort and companionship for firefighters who face high levels of stress on the job. After the 9/11 attacks, two firefighters from Rochester, N.Y., gifted the FDNY Ladder 20 company a Dalmatian puppy, appropriately named Twenty. The dog served as a source of comfort to the firefighters, who lost seven members of the company in 9/11. Dogs recognize signals Taken in as a stray in 1929, a dog named Nip served 10 years with New York’s Engine Company No. 203. During his service, the dog was injured by broken glass, falling debris, scalding burns, and bruises from falling off the fire engine. Nip could recognize all bells and signals. On fire scenes, Nip could alert firefighters if he knew something was wrong and sometimes run into burning buildings to look for victims. Unfortunately, Nip was killed by a hit-and-run driver in front of the firehouse in 1939 (and was stuffed by a taxidermist and displayed at the firehouse until 1974). Dogs promote fire safety Dogs promote fire safety outside the firehouse Dogs also promote fire safety outside the firehouse. For example, accelerant-sniffing dogs are trained to detect minute traces of accelerants that may be used to start a fire, according to the State Farm Arson Dog Program. The special bond between firefighters and dogs is the stuff of legend, despite the recent unfortunate events in Chicago – an ignoble scar on a long, colorful history of dogs in the fire service. Hopes remain that the decision can somehow be reversed, based on social media postings. “This is the first tragedy I have heard of in … 25 years,” said the administrator of the Firehouse Pups group.

What Impact Has COVID-19 Had On The Fire Industry?
What Impact Has COVID-19 Had On The Fire Industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had ramifications for almost every industry, some more than others. With the pandemic stretching well into a second year, the non-medical consequences continue, and many are wondering about which of the required changes might become permanent. As regards the fire sector, we asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What impact has COVID-19 had on the fire industry?