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  • N.F.P.A. standards

    I feel completely overwhelmed when I think of trying as a volunteer department to understand and then meet all the N.F.P.A. standards. I can't even afford to buy copies of the standards. How can I learn about the standards? How can I get help to understand what the standards expect of volunteer departments? What are the legal ramifications if I do not meet N.F.P.A. standards?

  • #2
    First, you are one big, fat step ahead of the game by realizing how important it is to meet and know the accepted standards. The task may appear to be more daunting than it is. Here are my suggestions.

    1. Either you or your FD should join the NFPA. There are discounts on materials and trainings. There are publications which are very informative. There is a great website.

    2. You can purchase the entire set of National Fire Codes on CD for about $430.00. Or you can subscribe to the online version for $565.00 per year. DO NOT buy the paper edition which goes for about $1000.

    3. Alternatively, go through the codes. You will find that you will actually be concerned with very, very few of them. Then, look at purchasing them seperately. My guess would be that it would not set you back that much.

    4. If funding is still a problem, get creative. Hit up the local corporations or civic organizations like the Rotary for help. Think outide the box. Remeber, it's probably the best spent money your FD will ever see.

    5. Avail yourself of NFPA training or local training that is consistent with your new goals.

    6. Commit and don't look back. You are doing the right thing.

    Before anybody bitches about the NFPA, you must remember that they are a business. They are not a philanthropic organization. They make money, in part, by selling books and codes. Remember, there is a cost to deloping over 300 codes and standards. Altough they don't oew the fire service free codes, there are several that are available online free.

    Good luck.


    • #3
      Also realize that the townspeople might be easily persuaded to fund more training for the department since you're not looking for 1/2 Mil. to buy a new truck, RIGHT? When you pose it from the standpoint that every ounce of national training goes toward making firefighters safer in the performance of fighting fire & performing other duties, people often see the benefits. Safe firefighters provide the town a service. $20,000 in training could save the townspeople several million in civil liability for negligence when someone died operating out of NFPA guidelines. Good luck!
      Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
      Dennis Miller


      • #4
        Talk to your local library. We had a member go to ours looking for any FF books. Found almost none, the librarian came up and asked us for a list of what we would like them to carry. They are looking into NFPA for us. I will agree with George, getting only the ones you need will save a lot, but the library is willing to get them for you, accept the offer. You may also try some college and/or county libraries.
        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


        • #5
          First of all - good for you! It's great to see that you are concerned with meeting the standards set by NFPA.

          The two biggest problems with volunteer departments trying to meet NFPA standards are obviously the cost, and also the time involved in simply learning the codes.

          If you have the time to research the codes, it can really help you when you go to your city council and request funds for equipment. If you can cite the NFPA standard, and why you aren't meeting it, it shows that you've done your homework - you're not just buying "toys".

          Example: Your current PPE isn't up to NFPA 1971 standards, so you go to the city council and request funds to buy new bunkers. Your ultra-conservative councilman says, "You've already got coats and pants that ought to be good enough."

          You counter by citing the NFPA 1971 standard and why your PPE is not compliant. You explain that if a firefighter should be injured at a scene, OSHA will want an explanation of why your personnel were using sub-standard equipment. The fines and lawsuits could easily exceed that of purchasing new gear. And, if you buy the new gear up front, you get the added bonus of protecting the men and women of the fire department who are giving their time and energy to protect the citizens of your community.

          I'm sure you've got a long road ahead of you, but keep on moving this direction. This will take a lot of time - probably several years. Take small steps, get what you can when you can, keep chipping away at it. Find a good grant-writer to apply for some of the free money that's out there. Our department received over $160,000 last year - really helped us get closer to NFPA compliance.


          • #6
            Argggh, cut & paste is working anymore on my !@#!@#$ pc...


            1. Like George said, even by thinking of this your way ahead of many.

            2. There's no legal ramifications to not following. As long as you don't get sued. And even if you can't comply with all requirements yet, I'd much rather answer an attorney's question why you didn't follow NFPA with something like, "We're aware of the standards, and have been actively working on a plan to get up to that level -- here it is and what we've already done." then "Huh? What's NFPA? We're Volunteers for cripes sake!"

            Generally if you have a lawsuit with traction, it's because you've really screwed up. The same attitude that led to the screw-up is often the same attitude that was reckless with researching and seeing what you can do to comply with consensus standards.

            When statutory or regulators get involved, they *may* reference NFPA. OSHA's PPE standards are based on NFPA, but don't exactly follow them. If you have OSHA compliant gear, I doubt you'll get sued on that matter since that is a standard you can follow. NFPA's just a bit stricter.

            3. It can seem overwhelming, but I'd keep this in mind: There's only a few NFPA standards that are relevant. Many of them have to do with equipment so a simple phrase "Compliant with NFPA Standard xxxx" on the bid, and let the manufacture be responsible for the details. Similiarly, if your state offers Firefigher I training that's NFPA 1001 level, start sending your FFs through that program to move towards compliance.

            Let's see,
            NFPA 1901 -- Standard for Automotive Apparatus
            1912 -- Refurb Apparatus
            1500 -- FD Safety & Health
            1932 -- Ladder maintenance & testing
            1962 -- Hose maintenance & testing
            1971 -- Structural PPE
            1001 -- Firefighter Qualifications
            1021 -- Fire Officer Qualifications

            Should cover most things pretty well. Gives you trucks, overall safety, makes sure your ladders, hose, and gear is safe, and your firefighters have a minimum level of training.

            4. Cost
            Does a neighboring department have a CD you can print from?
            Do you have a County Fire Chiefs Association -- if $450 is too much for you, may $45 from ten departments is do-able.
            Do you have a local/County Fire Marshal who already has them? For reasons beyond me, our town still buys the paper books and we take the Fire Marshal's old set every other year.
            IACOJ Canine Officer


            • #7
              The first thing I would do would be to look through your state's administrative codes (big book of state laws - some states have them on the internet) and figure out which NFPA standards are referenced here. If they are referenced as part on the state code, now they are law - not just a standard. Of the ones that are referenced as state code, figure out which ones actually apply to your department and service area. You'll probably find that you pretty much have the common ones covered anyway. Then all you should have to do is follow up with the administrative stuff to show you actually have a program.

              As mentioned earlier, skip the paper copies of all the standards - get the CD. It's cheaper and easier to use. It also doesn't use up all of your shelf space. Talk to the Emergency Government Director for your county or even at the state level. If they buy the CD, all county fire departments can use it and it doesnt come out of your budget.

              Once you figure out which ones apply to you and which ones are the most frequently used, purchase that particular printed standard. Some of these would be: NFPA 1, NFPA 10, NFPA 101, NFPA 1500, etc...

              Happy Hunting!


              • #8
                speaking of NFPA standards, does any know if there are any NFPA standards on the amount of hose and number of various appliances, nozzles, etc. on trucks?


                • #9
                  The first money I would spend would be to purchase Larry Davis's The Rural Firefighting Handbook. Larry has alot of good insight reguarding NFPA.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cmjones
                    speaking of NFPA standards, does any know if there are any NFPA standards on the amount of hose and number of various appliances, nozzles, etc. on trucks?
                    I believe that NFPA 1901 specifies not only how to construct an apparatus, but also what the mininmum load-out is on an apparatus.
                    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).


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