(February 9, 2007) - The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) today announced that the 2007 edition of NFPA 1982 Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) is now available online at www.nfpa.org/pass. In addition, NFPA has posted an alert notice on its Web site regarding PASS. The new edition of the standard addresses issues raised regarding performance issues of PASS certified to previous editions of the standard.
In late 2005, NFPA published an alert notice entitled “PASS alarm signals can fail at high temperatures” on the NFPA website advising emergency responders, especially fire fighters, of high temperature exposures causing the loudness of PASS alarm signals to be reduced and making the alarm signal indistinguishable from background noise at the incident scene. This problem was brought to the attention of the NFPA Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment (the Technical Committee) by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program.
NIOSH reported that during the investigation of four fire fighter fatalities that occurred from 2001 to 2004, the PASS alarm signals were not heard or were barely audible. The PASS had been certified as compliant to NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS), 1998 Edition, and involved both stand-alone PASS and
Laboratory testing of PASS by the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Fire Research Division showed that this sound reduction begins to occur at temperatures as low as 300° F (150° C) and affected all PASS evaluated by NIST that were certified to the 1998 edition and earlier editions of NFPA 1982.
Principal Changes to NFPA 1982
Once notified of the possible deficiencies in PASS, the NFPA Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment, in cooperation with NIOSH and NIST, studied the issue and incorporated revisions into the 2007 edition of NFPA 1982. The new edition of NFPA 1982 contains revisions providing for strengthened performance requirements and testing addressing the alarm signal degradation issue and also addresses other issues including problems caused by vibration, probably during transportation, and water ingress into the electronic and power supply compartments. The principal changes contained in the 2007 edition of NFPA 1982 are:
Reporting PASS Malfunctions
Emergency services organizations and emergency responder personnel are encouraged to report any PASS malfunctions and other problems with proper functioning of PASS directly to both the certification organization whose certification mark appears on the PASS, and to NIOSH – NPPTL. They can be reached at:
Important Safety Recommendations for the Fire Service and other PASS users
In spite of the problems with PASS, NFPA believes that PASS remain an important tool for fire fighters and other emergency responders. NFPA recommends that, at least until PASS designed and certified to the new 2007 edition of NFPA 1982 become available, emergency responders continue to maintain and use existing PASS. Users are cautioned, however, that both the existing as well as the new PASS (when available) should always be considered a last resort call for help for emergency responder personnel who are unable to otherwise notify others that they are in distress. Fire fighters and other emergency responders should continue to activate and wear PASS whenever in hazardous areas of any incident, but should also be aware of the possibility that hostile conditions may adversely affect the operation of PASS. Incident command should continue to apply all personnel accountability measures at all incidents to assure the safe entrance and exit of personnel from hazardous areas. Direct supervision of operating companies or teams should provide for the safe operating locations of personnel and ensure that members do not “freelance” on the incident scene.
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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617-984-7275