Support for Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
The United States depends on 1.1 million firefighters to protect communities. Of these firefighters, about 336,000 are career and 812,000 are volunteers. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration estimate that on average, 90 to 100 firefighters die in the line of duty each year.
In 1998, Congress recognized the need for further efforts to address the tragedy of job-related firefighter deaths. Congress tasked the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to implement a firefighter safety initiative. After gathering stakeholder input, NIOSH developed the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) in the Division of Safety Research.
The FFFIPP investigates select firefighter line-of-duty deaths so that the program can provide recommendations to prevent future deaths and injuries. This is a public health practice investigation program. NIOSH does not conduct investigations to enforce compliance with state or federal job safety and health standards. The investigations do not place fault or blame on fire departments or individual firefighters.
In 2001, Congress established the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). NPPTL is responsible for testing and approving all respirators used in U.S. workplace settings. NPPTL also conducts research and contributes to standards development for other types of personal protective equipment (PPE).,
NPPTL staff with expertise in PPE assists with FFFIPP investigations by evaluating the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs) involved in the incidents. Firefighters wore these SCBAs during incidents resulting in a line-of-duty death, serious injury, or other adverse event. NPPTL tests determine if the SCBA unit met the applicable regulations while worn during the incident.
NIOSH participates on several NFPA and other consensus standard setting committees. This participation allows NIOSH to submit key findings to organizations who can influence firefighter safety and health changes.
Goal: Evaluate fire service SCBA performance against applicable regulations and standards. Disseminate findings to firefighters, standards organizations, and other stakeholders.
- Identify performance issues and trends with SCBAs (if applicable)
- Recommend ways to prevent deaths and injuries
- Provide information to the fire service, standards developing organizations, and other stakeholders regarding PPE performance