NVFC urges volunteer fire departments to comment on proposed OSHA Emergency Response Standard

March 28, 2024

OSHA introduces proposed “Emergency Response” standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a proposed update to its safety and health regulations for emergency responders.

Published in the Federal Register on February 5, the “Emergency Response Standard” seeks to replace the current “Fire Brigades Standard.”

With the public comment period set to close on May 6, this new regulation introduces numerous requirements aimed at enhancing safety protocols for emergency response teams.

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has voiced concerns over the feasibility of these new mandates for volunteer fire departments.

Describing the proposed standard as potentially “burdensome” and “impossible” for volunteer units to implement, the NVFC is rallying support to influence the rulemaking process.

They encourage submissions of comments on the proposed rule and request a public hearing to better articulate the impact on volunteer departments.

NVFC mobilizes support through resources and guidance

In response to the proposed OSHA standard, the NVFC has taken proactive steps to aid volunteer fire departments in navigating the comment submission process.

A comprehensive comment guide has been made available, detailing how to access the proposed standard’s text, submit comments effectively, and understand the specific requirements that may affect volunteer organizations.

Furthermore, the NVFC has developed an outline of the proposed standard, emphasizing critical aspects and providing additional insights.

This resource, coupled with an invitation for departments to participate in a survey, aims to collate data to bolster the NVFC’s comments on the proposed rule.

The council also suggests sending a letter to OSHA requesting an extension of the public comment period by 90 days, facilitating a broader and more informed response from the volunteer fire service community.

Urgent call for community action and feedback

The NVFC’s initiative underscores the importance of community engagement in the regulatory process.

By assembling resources such as a comment guide, a survey, and an outline of the proposed standard, the council is equipping volunteer fire departments with the tools necessary to articulate their concerns and suggestions to OSHA.

FSJA Comment

The proposed “Emergency Response” standard by OSHA marks a significant moment for volunteer fire departments across the United States.

While the intention behind the update—to enhance the safety and health protocols for emergency responders—is clear, the practical implications for volunteer units raise concerns about compliance and operational feasibility.

This situation highlights the essential role of public feedback in the regulatory process, ensuring that the voices of those most affected are heard and considered.

As the May 6 deadline for public comments approaches, the outcome of this collaborative endeavor will undoubtedly shape the future operational landscape for volunteer fire departments and, by extension, the communities they serve.

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