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New Standard for Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment

Posted: Nov. 9, 2023

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The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released its second draft of NFPA 1970, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural and Proximity Firefighting, Work Apparel and Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services, and Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS). This new standard for the fire service features updated performance requirements for firefighter personal protective equipment.

To address the whole firefighting ensemble in a single standard, NFPA 1970 consolidates into 1 document the existing standards for:

  • Clothing (NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting).
  • Work uniforms (NFPA 1975, Standard on Emergency Services Work Apparel).
  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services).
  • Personal alert safety system devices (NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS)).

Some of the most significant changes are focused on increasing contamination resistance and cleanability of gear. For example:

  • The new standard proposes to make particulate-blocking hoods required rather than optional.
  • The new standard addresses restricted substances such as PFAS in a meaningful way with improved testing methods.

NFPA 1970 also includes a section outlining a range of new test methods for evaluating the whole ensemble for thermal protection, heat stress impact, and protection from particulates and gases.

Although NFPA 1970 will not be finalized until 2024, most of the changes likely to be incorporated are now well documented in the NFPA’s second draft.

For more information:

  • The NFPA’s second draft report on NFPA 1970 (with all public comments, technical committee actions and responses, and second revisions) can be accessed at no cost by creating a free account on NFPA’s website.
  • An October 2023 article from FireRescue1 features a detailed discussion of these changes and their implications.

This article is based on content in the
Nov. 9, 2023 InfoGram.

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