IAFC President discusses OSHA draft emergency response standard

May 7, 2024

OSHA releases draft regulations on firefighter safety

On May 2, 2024, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) President, John Butler, addressed the organization’s membership regarding the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) newly released draft regulations.

These regulations aim to enhance the health, safety, and wellness of firefighters across the United States.

IAFC’s proactive engagement in draft standards

President Butler highlighted the IAFC’s critical role as a unique representative for the leadership of America’s career, volunteer, and combination fire and emergency services.

The IAFC has been actively involved in the development of these standards, a process initiated in the aftermath of 9/11 during George W. Bush’s presidency.

The organization has contributed through various means including providing feedback, participating in the drafting of early versions of the standards, and engaging in the Small Business Administration’s Small Entity Review process.

Extensive coverage and impact of new standards

The proposed OSHA standards encompass a wide array of issues pertinent to firefighting operations.

These include medical screening, personal protective equipment, training requirements, and more.

The standards are designed to integrate over 20 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.

President Butler emphasized the importance of understanding the potential implications of these standards, especially in states where federal OSHA regulations do not typically apply to public sector employees or volunteer firefighters.

IAFC’s ongoing commitment to member education and feedback

The IAFC has established a working group from its Sections and Committees to thoroughly review the draft regulations.

This group is tasked with examining the potential impacts on volunteer fire departments, the implications of incorporating NFPA standards, and the overall costs of compliance.

With a deadline for comments set for June 21, 2024, the IAFC is urging its members to actively participate in the review process and provide their insights to OSHA.

President Butler assured members of the IAFC’s dedication to supporting emergency responder welfare and highlighted the association’s commitment to ensuring that the eventual regulations consider a reasonable timetable for implementation.

He stressed that this is merely the initial phase of what is expected to be an extensive process of evaluation, review, and revision over the next two years.

FSJA Comment

The IAFC’s involvement in shaping the new OSHA draft emergency response standard underscores the organization’s integral role in advocating for the safety and wellbeing of firefighters nationwide.

By facilitating a comprehensive review and feedback process, the IAFC ensures that the voices of its diverse membership are heard.

This initiative is crucial as it seeks to balance regulatory impacts with the operational realities of fire and emergency services across the country.

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