NFPA 1970: The comprehensive new standard for firefighter safety

November 20, 2023

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has introduced a pivotal new standard, NFPA 1970, to bolster the safety and effectiveness of firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE).

This standard, currently in its second draft, marks a significant advancement in the realm of firefighter safety.

Consolidation of standards

NFPA 1970 integrates several existing standards into a single comprehensive document.

This amalgamation simplifies and strengthens the guidelines for various aspects of firefighter gear, including:

  • Clothing, previously covered under NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.
  • Work uniforms, as per NFPA 1975, Standard on Emergency Services Work Apparel.
  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), governed by NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for Emergency Services.
  • Personal alert safety system devices (PASS), outlined in NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems​​​​.

NFPA 1970: Enhanced Protection and Safety Features

One of the critical changes in NFPA 1970 is the heightened emphasis on contamination resistance and cleanability of gear. Notable updates include:

  • The mandate for particulate-blocking hoods, ensuring a minimum particulate filtration efficiency of 90%, thereby allowing only a maximum of 10% of particles to pass through the hood material​​.
  • Improved testing methods for restricted substances such as PFAS, addressing concerns about harmful contaminants​​.

Additionally, NFPA 1970 introduces new test methods to evaluate the entire ensemble for thermal protection, heat stress impact, and protection from particulates and gases.

Introduction of NFPA 1970

While NFPA 1970 is expected to be finalized in 2024, most of the anticipated changes are already detailed in the current draft.

This initiative by the NFPA demonstrates a proactive approach to enhancing firefighter safety and effectiveness through robust PPE standards​​​​.

FSJA Comment

The introduction of NFPA 1970 is a landmark moment in the field of firefighter safety and health. By consolidating multiple standards into a single, comprehensive document, the NFPA has taken a significant step towards simplifying the guidelines and ensuring higher safety standards for firefighters.

This standard addresses the immediate needs of contamination resistance and cleanability of gear whilst setting the stage for future enhancements in PPE.

The focus on particulate-blocking hoods and improved testing methods for restricted substances indicates a strong commitment to addressing long-standing concerns about firefighter exposure to harmful contaminants.

As we anticipate the finalization of NFPA 1970 in 2024, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of such standards in protecting those who risk their lives for public safety.

This initiative symbolizes a progressive move towards ensuring that the health and safety of firefighters are given paramount importance in the development of protective gear and equipment.

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