NFPA and NIOSH form alliance for emergency responder safety

Published on October 31, 2005
NIOSH, NFPA agreement
NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, and NFPA President James M. Shannon signed an MOU on October 31, 2005, that focuses on emergency responder safety and protective clothing and equipment.
October 31, 2005 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that focuses on emergency responder safety and protective clothing and equipment.

NFPA President James M. Shannon and NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, this afternoon signed an MOU that includes all protective clothing and equipment used to respond to all emergency incidents, including fire, law enforcement, technical rescue, hazardous materials, emergency medical, special operations, and terrorism incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRN) hazards, as well as the development of standards for emergency responder organizations and personnel concerning the safety, deployment, operations, and protection of emergency responders. 

In 2001, NIOSH was charged by Congress to create a new protective technology program and the NPPTL was established. The laboratory provides world leadership for the prevention and reduction of occupational disease, injury, and death of workers relying on personal protective technologies. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and later threats to the United States have made the testing, evaluation, and certification of emergency responder CBRN personal protective equipment a national priority.

NPPTL’s emphasis has been on the development of new performance criteria, testing methods, and certification standards for respiratory protective equipment and for protective ensembles for response to terrorism incidents involving CBRN.

NPPTL also has an active role in the NFPA standards development process for emergency responder protective clothing and equipment that provide protection from physical, chemical, biological, thermal, inhalation, and dermal hazards encountered during emergency medical, law enforcement, hazardous materials, technical rescue, firefighting, and special operations during terrorism incidents. 

Together, NIOSH and NFPA will strive to provide the research and technology so that NIOSH regulations and NFPA standards can give leadership for protective clothing and equipment to aid the protection of emergency responders.

As part of the partnership, NIOSH-NPPTL will

  • Form an alliance with NFPA.
  • Collaborate with NFPA on technical information and performance standards concerning performance, testing, validation, use, care, and maintenance of emergency responder personal protective equipment.
  • Collaborate with NFPA on emergency responder and emergency responder organization issues concerning safety, deployment, and operations.
  • Use the NFPA standards development system and process, when appropriate, for any standards for emergency responders or emergency responder organizations that would supplement NIOSH regulations.
  • Use NFPA standards for personal protective equipment (PPE) evaluations conducted by the NPPTL to determine compliance with NFPA standards.

As part of the partnership, NFPA will

  • Form an alliance with NIOSH.
  • Formally recognize NIOSH-NPPTL as the primary federal agency for emergency responder and emergency responder organization personal protection technology (PPT) issues. 
  • Recognize and use NIOSH regulations for emergency responder PPT as an integral baseline for NFPA codes and standards.
  • Provide technical expertise and guidance to NPPTL on its long-term technology development programs related to emergency responder organizations and the emergency responders.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. Visit NFPA’s Web site.

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