Mine Safety Appliances
Overview
 
Mine Safety Appliances, or MSA, is a maker of sophisticated safety products that help protect workers who may be exposed to a variety of hazardous conditions. The company’s product line includes gas monitoring and detection instruments, filter-type respirators, gas masks, breathing apparatus used by firefighters, thermal imaging cameras, firefighter helmets, ballistic body armor, military communications systems, a broad range of industrial head and fall protection products, and safety products for Do-It-Yourself consumers.
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Mine Safety Appliances, or MSA, is a maker of sophisticated safety products that help protect workers who may be exposed to a variety of hazardous conditions. The company’s product line includes gas monitoring and detection instruments, filter-type respirators, gas masks, breathing apparatus used by firefighters, thermal imaging cameras, firefighter helmets, ballistic body armor, military communications systems, a broad range of industrial head and fall protection products, and safety products for Do-It-Yourself consumers. Key markets include construction, military, fire service, chemical production, oil and gas, and general industry.

MSA is based in the Pittsburgh suburb of O'Hara Township in Pennsylvania. With help from Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

 the company was formed in 1914 to develop a battery-powered cap lamp for miners to help prevent methane
Methane
Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

-related explosions caused by open flame lamps. Since the turn of the 21st Century, MSA has seen record sales. Only a small portion of the company's current products involve mining related products.

The corporation's assets are managed through two business segments: MSA North America and MSA International. MSA has sales and manufacturing operations throughout the world and sells products to customers in more than 140 countries. While the majority of MSA's products are available only through distributors, the company does sell head, eye, ear, respiratory and body protection products to individuals through a variety of hardware and home center retail outlets.

Breathing sets

Mine Safety Appliances Co. has been manufacturing oxygen breathing apparatus for decades.

Their "Chemox" chemical rebreather
Rebreather
A rebreather is a type of breathing set that provides a breathing gas containing oxygen and recycled exhaled gas. This recycling reduces the volume of breathing gas used, making a rebreather lighter and more compact than an open-circuit breathing set for the same duration in environments where...

, primarily designed for use in mines, has been modified for use on Mt. Everest in 1952 and 1986. They are stated to be simple in construction and operation. It is essentially a canister of potassium superoxide
Potassium superoxide
Potassium superoxide is the chemical compound with the formula KO2. This rare salt of the superoxide ion is produced by burning molten potassium in pure oxygen...

 connected to one-way flow valves to an air bag and thence to the user, as in #Rebreathers whose absorbent releases oxygen hereinabove. There are no controls or operable valves of any kind. Breathing rate controls oxygen production. The main disadvantage is the 4-lbs canisters are good for only about 45-minutes of rapid climbing before another canister must be switched in. The canisters supply about 6 hours of sleeping oxygen.

Also, during WWII in the 1940s, they were awarded a contract to make plastic helmet liners for the M1 Helmet
M1 Helmet
The M1 helmet is a combat helmet that was used by the American military from World War II until it was succeeded by the PASGT helmet beginning in 1985. For over forty years, the M1 was standard issue for the U.S...


MSA Fire Helmets

From the 1930s to the 1980s, MSA produced fire helmets. The First generation was known as Skullguard and was a hard plastic produced in the 1930s to the 1960s. The second generation was a lighter plastic fire helmet, and was called Topguard, and was introduced in the early 1960s. The topgard helmets were very lightweight and were also aerodynamic, and were especially good for high winds during wildfires. The topgard helmet during the 1970s came in several different colors, black, red, green, yellow, white, and oddly transparent. The topgard brand helmets were most notably used by the Los Angeles County Fire Dept and in popular culture, seen throughout the television show Emergency!
Emergency!
Emergency! is an American television series that combines the medical drama and action-adventure genres. It was produced by Mark VII Limited and distributed by Universal Studios...

. However, because of the rapidly changing fire dept codes and regulations many fire depts had to switch to a different brand of helmet, and the Topgard branded MSA helmet was trimmed and modernized into a construction helmet. MSA also currently produces a brigade fire helmet for many European countries such as France.
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