Emergency responders now have the opportunity to purchase protective clothing and equipment manufactured to updated National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards as manufacturers complete the testing and certification process. Per NFPA requirements designed to provide an orderly transition to the revised standards, product labeled to the 2005 edition of standards may not be shipped until certification is granted.

You should know that four updated emergency response protective clothing and equipment standards state September 1, 2005 as the date that labels reflecting certification to a previous standard edition must be removed from product within a manufacturer’s control.

The NFPA standards which have the September 1st label removal requirement are:

  • NFPA 1936-2005, Standard on Powered Rescue Tools
  • NFPA 1977-2005, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1991-2005, Standard on Vapor-Protective Ensembles for Hazardous Materials Emergencies, and
  • NFPA 1992-2005, Standard on Liquid Splash-Protective Ensembles and Clothing for Hazardous Materials Emergencies

As a third-party certification organization responsible for overseeing the transition process in accordance with NFPA requirements, the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) has been working with manufacturers to complete these necessary tasks.

Ensuring quality

Third-party certification is an important means of ensuring the quality of products. To be certain that an item is properly certified and labeled, NFPA recommends that purchasers require evidence of certification for the specific product and model from the manufacturer before purchasing. Purchasers should also contact the certification organization and request copies of the list of certified products to the appropriate NFPA standard. This listing is a requirement of third-party certification by the NFPA standard. SEI’s Certified Product List is available at www.SEInet.org.

NFPA 1936

NFPA 1936’s scope covers powered rescue tools and components utilized by emergency services personnel to extricate victims from entrapment. The standard includes requirements for spreaders, rams, cutters, and combination powered rescue tools, cable assemblies, hose assemblies, and power unit components for powered rescue tools.

Manufacturers must provide specific language on product labels, and must provide training documentation for users with each rescue tool and component. The documentation should address at least inspection, maintenance, safe operation, cleaning, decontamination, and storage.

NFPA 1977

The scope for NFPA 1977 encompasses wildland fire fighting protective clothing and equipment. This includes protective garments, helmets, gloves, footwear, goggles, chain saw protectors, and load carrying equipment for protection against adverse environmental effects encountered by personnel performing wildland fire fighting operations.

NFPA 1991

NFPA was developed to establish a level of protection for emergency response personnel against adverse vapor, liquid-splash, and particulate environments during hazardous materials incidents, and from specified chemical and biological terrorism agents in vapor, liquid splash, and particulate environments during chemical and biological terrorism incidents.

The scope of NFPA 1991 addresses requirements for the design, performance, testing, documentation, and certification of vapor-protective ensembles and ensemble elements used by emergency response personnel during hazardous materials incidents and chemical, biological, or radiological terrorism incidents.

Performance requirements reflect simulated use conditions. Some of the tests include a suit pressurization test used to check the airtight integrity of each protective ensemble. An overall liquid-tight integrity test is used to ensure the ensemble provides full body protection against liquid splashes, and an overall ensemble function and integrity test with a test subject is performed. A maximum suit ventilation rate test and gas-tight integrity test are also included.

Suit materials must resist permeation and meet penetration requirements for each chemical in the NFPA battery. The test program also includes exhaust valve mounting strength test, testing for external fittings and an exhaust valve inward leakage test.

Material testing for burst strength, tear strength, abrasion resistance, flammability resistance, cold temperature performance, and flexural fatigue are required so that materials used for vapor-protective suits will afford adequate protection in the environment where they will be used.

Requirements for protection from chemical and biological terrorism agents are also included in the base requirements for all vapor-protective ensembles — making protective ensembles certified to NFPA 1991 the highest level of protection for emergency responders.

NFPA 1992

NFPA 1992 addresses liquid splash-protective ensembles and clothing designed to protect emergency response personnel against exposure to specified chemicals in liquid splash environments during hazardous materials emergencies. Chemical penetration resistance documentation of garment material against an NFPA battery of test chemicals and any additional chemicals or specific chemical mixtures for which the manufacturer is certifying the suit is required. The NFPA chemicals were selected from ASTM F l00l, Standard Guide for Chemicals to Evaluate Protective Clothing Materials.

The standard includes performance requirements established to reflect simulated use conditions. An overall suit water penetration test is included to ensure the suit provides full body splash protection. Testing of materials includes burst strength, tear resistance, flammability resistance testing, abrasion resistance, cold temperature performance, and flexural fatigue testing.