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Final comments on PPE changes of NFPA 1970 sought; deadline Dec. 4

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To protect against the toxic contaminants of the today’s fireground, firefighters need personal protective equipment (PPE) that can provide contamination control in addition to meeting all basic safety and performance requirements. PPE should not become a source of contamination; it should be made of safe, durable materials and should be easy to decontaminate.

On Oct. 3, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released its second draft of NFPA 1970, a new standard for the fire service that addresses these needs with new performance requirements for firefighter PPE.

NFPA 1970 is a consolidation of existing standards for clothing (NFPA 1971), work uniforms (NFPA 1975), self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) (NFPA 1981) and personal alert safety system (PASS) devices (NFPA 1982) into one document. These standards were combined in alignment with the NFPA’s consolidation plan for all standards for emergency response. With this consolidation, the whole firefighting ensemble can now be addressed in a single standard.

Although NFPA 1970 will not be finalized until 2024, most of the changes likely to be incorporated are now well documented in the NFPA’s second draft.

Some of the most significant changes are focused on increasing contamination resistance and cleanability of gear. The new standard proposes to make particulate-blocking hoods required rather than optional. Changes also aim to address restricted substances such as PFAS in a meaningful way with improved testing methods. NFPA 1970 includes a section outlining a range of new test methods for evaluating the whole ensemble for thermal protection, heat stress impact and protection from particulates and gases.

The NFPA’s Second Draft Report on NFPA 1970 can be accessed at no cost by creating a free account on NFPA’s website. The Second Draft Report consists of the entire second draft of the standard along with all public comments, technical committee actions and responses, and second revisions.

A final comment period on NFPA 1970 is now open. Anyone can review the technical committees’ changes and submit comments using the NFPA’s Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) process until Dec. 4, 2023.