Partnership Addresses Safety Issues for Emergency Responders

The National Fire Protection Association has partnered with some of the nation's leading safety and government\r\norganizations to develop safety consensus-based codes and standards.

The nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has partnered with some of the nation''s leading safety and government organizations to develop consensus-based codes and standards.

The codes and standards would be used for the performance, testing, care, use and maintenance of equipment protecting medical professionals, police, fire and rescue officials, and other emergency responders from exposure to weapons of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive terrorism.

The memorandum of understanding was agreed upon by NFPA, the Office of Law Enforcement Standards, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, OSHA and the Department of Labor.

"NFPA is pleased to be a part of this unprecedented partnership," said NFPA President George Miller. "The federal government has placed a heavy emphasis on combating terrorism in all of its forms throughout the country. NFPA''s open consensus process is an appropriate vehicle through which this crucial public safety issue can be addressed. Working with our partners, we will identify and update existing standards, or create new standards to protect responders who are our first-line of defense."

Under the agreement, NFPA will review the existing standards as they apply to the inoperability of civilian and military emergency responder equipment.

Based on this review, NFPA will apply its consensus-based process to update existing standards or create new standards, as appropriate. NIOSH will test and certify all respiratory equipment.

NFPA standards for first response team equipment are currently in use in 25 states and are referenced in OSHA guidelines.

"For years, NFPA has been developing codes and standards that impact fire service, emergency medical, law enforcement, and hazardous materials responders," said Miller. "We also recognize that some important work has already been done in this field and we intend to appropriately utilize existing documents in this process."

For more information on the NFPA partnership, visit the association''s Web site at www.nfpa.org.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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