PPE101: Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment & Training

PPE Standards

Welcome to the PPE Standards Section. Look to this section to find out how these different standards affect PPE use, care and maintenance. Start by finding out who the different standard-making organizations are and then move on to learn more about these important documents designed to keep you safe on the job.

About the Standard-Making Organizations

Who is NFPAWho is OSHAWhat is 3rd Party Certification
NFPA_LogoNFPA 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 5 years to ensure that it is kept current with new fire protection knowledge and technologies. the NFPA process is open and anyone can participate
OSHA_LogoOSHA’s mission is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

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 twenty 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.

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 to be certified. Additionally, the certification organization must be primarily engaged in certification work, such as Underwriters Laboratories.

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 re-testing and random samples are also taken to ensure that every requirement is tested annually. A thirdparty registrar is also required to validate the manufacturing quality process, in accordance with ISO 9001.

Current PPE Standards

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 the protective coats and trousers:

There shall be at least a 2″ overlap of layers of the coat and trousers so there is no gaping of the total thermal protection when the garments are worn. The minimum overlap shall be determined by measuring the garments on the wearer, without SCBA, in both of the following positions:
Position A. Standing, hands together reaching overhead as high as possible.
Position B. Standing, hands together reaching overhead, with body bent forward, to the side, and to the back as much as possible.

NFPA 1851, 2008 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. This 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.

NFPA 1951, 2007 Edition

Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents, Prior Years

The 2001 edition of NFPA 1951 was titled Standard on Protective Ensemble for USAR Operations. In the 2007 edition the title was changed to the above; however, this standard still deals 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 includes three levels of protection: a utility garment, a rescue garment, and a CBRN garment. 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 450w/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, 2007 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 firefighting – coats, trousers, one-piece suits, hoods, helmets, gloves, and footwear. As with all NFPA Standards, the 2007 Edition of NFPA 1971 replaced the 2000 edition, and all previous editions. The 2007 edition had an effective date of August 2006 and unlike previous editions, the 2007 edition of NFPA 1971 incorporated design and performance requirements for proximity protective ensemble elements as well as for structural protective ensemble elements. Additionally, the 2007 Edition incorporated design and performance requirements for optional CBRN requirements. This means that departments who wish to specify CBRN protection will be able to do so, although will not be required to do so. Manufacturers who label a garment as providing CBRN protection will be required to test against the specific requirements set forth in the standard. In other words, the CBRN protection is optional, but if you are labeling to that option the test requirements for doing so are mandatory and must also be third party certified.

NFPA 1975, 2009 Edition

Station/Work Uniforms for Fire and Emergency Services

NFPA 1975, 2009 Edition

NFPA 1975 specifies minimum requirements for the design, performance, testing, and certification of station/work uniforms that are non-primary protective garments, so that they will not cause or contribute to burn injury severity.

NFPA 1977, 2005 Edition

Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting

NFPA 1977 specifies requirements for the design, performance, testing, and certification of the items of protective clothing for protection from the hazards of wildland fire fighting operations. Provisions address criteria for garments including shirts, jackets, cold weather outerwear, and pants; and for helmets, shrouds, goggles, gloves, footwear, chainsaw leg protectors, and load-carrying equipment.

NFPA 1991, 2005 Edition

Standard on Vapor-Protective Ensembles for Hazardous Materials Emergencies

The 2005 NFPA 1991 provides requirements for the highest level of protection for emergency responders to hazardous materials incidents where an unknown threat, a vapor threat, or a chemical or biological terrorism WMD threat is present or expected. Criteria address design, performance, certification, and documentation requirements.

NFPA 1992, 2005 Edition

Standard on Liquid Splash-Protective Clothing for Hazardous Materials Emergencies

NFPA 1992 provides requirements for protection for emergency responders to hazardous materials incidents where liquid or liquid splash threats are present or expected.

NFPA 1994, 2007 Edition

Standard on Protective Ensembles for First Responders to CBRN Terrorism Incidents

NFPA 1994 establishes the minimum requirements for the design, performance, testing, documentation, and certification of protective ensembles and ensemble elements for protection of emergency first responder personnel from chemicals, biological agents, and radiological particulate (CBRN) terrorism agents.

NFPA 1999, 2008 Edition

Standard on Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations (EMS)

NFPA 1999: Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations specifies minimum documentation, design, performance, testing, and certification requirements for new-single use and new multiple-use emergency medical operations protective clothing used by emergency medical responders prior to arrival at medical care facilities, and used by medical first receivers at medical care facilities during emergency medical operations.

CAN/CGSB-155.1-2001

The Canadian General Standards

Board standard for Firefighters’ Protective Clothing for Protection Against Heat and Flame, was last revised in 2001

The moisture Barrier is subject to a diffusion resistance test, with no THL values required.

The NFPA 1971 Shower test is not required to validate design.

The method specified for Flame resistance testing is different.

Tear Strength testing is performed after exposure to UV.

Certification is currently only required in the Province of Ontario.

OSHA Rule 29 CFR 1910.1030

Final rule on Protecting Health Care Workers from Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne 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.”