FASNY expresses concerns over OSHA’s proposed fire service standard updates

March 7, 2024
FDNY Bronx New York Fire fighters

FASNY challenges proposed OSHA fire brigade standard revisions

The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) has raised objections to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed updates to the Fire Brigades Standard.

Edward Tase Jr., President of FASNY, emphasized the potential drastic effects these changes could have on the fire service sector.

OSHA’s proposed changes aim to enhance safety

OSHA’s initiative to revise the Fire Brigades Standard (29 CFR 1910.156), which originated in 1980, involves the introduction of the “Emergency Response Standard.” This new standard is designed to bolster safety and health protections for emergency responders, including firefighters, EMS providers, and technical search and rescue workers.

An OSHA press release stated: “The new standard updates safety and health protections in line with national consensus standards…

It will include major changes for protective clothing and equipment and significant improvements in safety and health practices.”

President Biden has shown support for this initiative, with OSHA noting his commitment to “protecting our emergency responders, the same way they protect us every day.”

FASNY President voices concerns

However, FASNY President Edward Tase Jr. expressed significant reservations about these changes in a statement: “While the goal of the new rule is to further protect the safety of emergency responders, it was crafted in a vacuum and does not reflect the challenges that emergency response agencies face in the real world… the new standard could hamper recruitment and retention efforts and even cause many current firefighters to leave the service.”

Tase also highlighted concerns over the integration of several NFPA standards and the increased liability and potential legal challenges that could arise from the proposed standard.

Overview of proposed rule changes

Michael Fraley, in his column “OSHA takes action to limit emergency responder injuries and fatalities,” outlined some key aspects of the proposed changes.

These include requirements for emergency response plans (ERP), vulnerability assessments, behavioral health resources, and stringent standards for personal protective equipment (PPE) and vehicle safety.

Public comment period open until May 6

The proposed changes have been published in the Federal Register, initiating a 90-day comment period that concludes on May 6.

This period allows for public input, with Fraley emphasizing the importance of stakeholders in fire and EMS to review and comment on the document.

FSJA Comment

The proposed updates by OSHA to the Fire Brigades Standard have sparked a debate between advancing safety standards and the practical implications for emergency responders.

FASNY’s response underscores the tension between regulatory changes and their real-world impact on emergency service providers.

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