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NFPA – National Fire Protection Association

NFPA is a standards writing organization, founded in 1896 and dedicated to the concept of voluntary consensus standards writing. While it is not an enforcing agency, NFPA enjoys a unique reputation and its standards have been adopted by all levels of government, in many cases giving the standards the force of law. Each NFPA standard undergoes revision every five years to ensure that it is kept current with new fire protection knowledge and technologies. The NFPA process requires “balanced” committees and is open to anyone who wishes to participate.

Third-Party Certification
In order for an element to be labeled compliant to a given NFPA standard, it must be tested by an independent third-party organization that is not owned or controlled by manufacturers or vendors of the product being certified. The third-party testing agency cannot have any monetary interest in the product being certified. Additionally, the certification organization must be primarily engaged in certification work, such as Underwriters Laboratory or Intertek Testing Services.

This independent third-party company verifies that the design and construction is in accordance with design requirements, and that the element has successfully passed all performance requirements set forth in the standard to which it is labeled. Any change in materials or design requires additional testing, and random audits, including sampling, occurs at least twice a year to ensure that every requirement is tested annually. A third-party registrar is also required to validate the manufacturing quality process, in accordance with ISO 9001.

Federal and State OSHA Standards
Several states have their own OSHA standards; however, NFPA standards are generally more rigorous than OSHA standards. Since the FED-OSHA standard has not been revised for over 20 years, clothing that is labeled to NFPA standards will easily exceed FED-OSHA standards. However, clothing meeting OSHA will not necessarily meet NFPA, and so it is important for the end users to be aware of existing state OSHA requirements and how they compare to NFPA requirements.
OSHA Rule 29 CFR 1910.1030
Final Rule on Protecting Health Care Workers from Occupational Exposure to Blood-borne Pathogens
When there is occupational exposure, the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment.

Personal protective equipment will be considered ‘appropriate’ only if it does not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through to or reach the employee’s work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time which the protective equipment will be used.

NFPA 1500, 2013 EDITION
Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program
This document addresses the occupational safety in the working environment of the fire service as well as safety in the proper use of tools, equipment, vehicles, protective clothing, and breathing apparatus. Career, volunteer, private, and military departments are included in the document. This is the standard that dictates the overlap requirements between coats and trousers:

The protective coat and the protective trousers shall have at least a 2 in. (50 mm) overlap of all layers so there is no gaping of the total thermal and barrier protection when the protective garments are worn.

The minimum overlap shall be determined by measuring the garments on the wearer, without respiratory protection, in both of the following positions:

(1) Position A – standing, hands together reaching overhead as high as possible.

(2) Position B – standing, hands together reaching overhead, with body bent forward, at a 90-degree angle, to the side (either left or right), and to the back.

NFPA 1851, 2014 EDITION
Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting
NFPA 1851 is a user document, originally published in February of 2001 and revised in June of 2008. The 2014 revision marks the third complete revision to this user standard. The standard deals with fire departments’ selection and care of Personal Protective Equipment, and contains chapters on administration, definitions, program, selection, inspection, cleaning and decontamination, repair, storage, retirement, verification and test procedures. This revision continues to require the 10 year mandatory retirement rule for structural gear and 5 year mandatory retirement for reflective outer shells specified in proximity gear. New definitions were added to the 2014 revision to differentiate manufacturer trained organization, verified organization, and verified independent service provider. Perhaps the most significant change in the 2014 revision involves independent service providers. The 2008 revision of the standard contained both verified and non-verified ISPs. The 2014 edition does not recognize any but verified ISPs; in other words, in order to claim to be an ISP in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 1851, the service provider must be verified by a third-party certification organization. Additionally, a new table was added to Chapter 4 which specifies the responsibilities for garment inspection, cleaning, and repairs. Chapter 6, Inspection, now includes inspection for delamination and label integrity and legibility. Chapter 7 has changes to the cleaning and decontamination procedure, and Chapter 8 has revised requirements for the repair of ensemble and ensemble elements. There are also several changes to Chapter 11, Verification, that affect how an organization or ISP is to be verified, and two new tables have been added that address advanced inspection and advanced cleaning evaluations.
NFPA 1951, 2013 EDITION
Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents
The 2001 edition of NFPA 1951 was titled Standard on Protective Ensemble for USAR Operations. In the 2007 edition, the title was changed to Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents, which remains the title for the current edition. The standard continues to deal with technical rescue incidents in urban and other non-wilderness locations that require special equipment. NFPA 1951 sets forth requirements for the protective clothing and equipment needs of emergency responders engaged in technical rescue activities. The 2007 edition first introduced three levels of protection: a utility garment, a rescue garment, and a CBRN garment, and those designations remain in place. The big difference in the categories is that a utility garment has a THL (total heat loss) requirement of 650 W/m² and does not require a moisture barrier, which means there is no Whole Garment Integrity Test (i.e. shower test). Both the rescue garment and the CBRN garment are required to undergo the Whole Garment Integrity test, which necessitates a moisture barrier. The Rescue garment has a THL requirement of 450 W/m², and the CBRN garment requires a THL of 250 W/m². As with other CBRN options, there are additional, very stringent test requirements for the CBRN garment.
NFPA 1971, 2013 EDITION
Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting
This standard sets the minimum requirements for design, performance, testing, and certification of the elements of the ensemble for body protection in structural fire fighting and in proximity fire fighting – coats, trousers, one-piece suits, hoods, helmets, gloves, footwear, and interface elements such as wristers. As with all NFPA standards, the 2013 edition of NFPA 1971 replaced the 2007 edition, and all previous editions. The 2013 edition was approved as an American National Standard on August 29, 2012, with a final completion date of August 29, 2013. The 2013 edition continues to incorporate design and performance requirements for optional CBRN requirements, and includes several new definitions and revised labeling requirements. Changes have been made to the performance requirements for all of the ensemble elements, which are reflected in revised and/or new test methods. For garments, one of the most noteworthy new requirements is a SET or stored energy test. This new requirement and associated test method is the culmination of several years of research as to why firefighters get burned under seemingly low heat flux conditions, even as the gear appears unaffected. As a result of research into this area, there is a new standardized test method for stored energy, titled ASTM F 2371.
NFPA 1977, 2011 EDITION
Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting
The 2011 revision is the fourth edition of this standard and became effective on January 3, 2011. This revision features the addition of new tables on total surface area of all reinforcements. The tables on minimum sizing requirements for protective upper and lower torso garments and one-piece garments were revised, and a new annex section explaining thermal shrinkage tests using temperatures less than 260° C were added.
NFPA 1999, 2013 EDITION
Standard Developed to Address Protective Garments, Gloves, and Face-wear
This standard was developed to address protective garments, gloves, and facewear designed to protect persons providing emergency medical care against exposure to liquid-borne pathogens during emergency medical operations. The 2013 edition is the fifth revision to this document and it continues to specify 25 wash/dry preconditioning cycles and a flame test for textile layers in garments, as well as the optional CBRN requirements. Specific to footwear, this standard includes revisions to the abrasion test, slip resistance test, footwear upper materials testing, and cut resistance testing. New requirements for garments that were added in this edition include a breaking strength, shear strength, and cycle strength for hook and loop, and several breaking strength requirements for zippers.