Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

The purpose of this project is to reduce fire fighter fatalities by identifying work situations at high risk for fatal injury and formulating prevention strategies for those who can intervene in the workplace. NIOSH conducts on-site investigations of fire fighter line-of-duty deaths to identify the circumstances and conditions that contributed to the fatality, and then disseminates recommendations for preventing similar occurrences.

Project contact: Jeff Funke
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 1997-2028

Standards Development Organizations Activities

The project purpose is continuous improvement in emergency services personal protective equipment (PPE) by revising existing standards and developing new standards. This process considers new material technologies and design configurations which can be driven by performance criteria mandated in PPE certification standards. Implementing these National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards enhances worker safety and health hazard prevention. NIOSH staff at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory participate in the revision process of NFPA protective clothing, equipment, and selection, care and maintenance standards according to a timeline mandated by NFPA.

Project contact: Timothy Rehak
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
Project period: 2006-2025

Protective Clothing Ensembles for Healthcare Personnel and Emergency Medical Service

This project aims to investigate issues with protective clothing ensembles used by healthcare personnel (HCP) and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel and improve personal protective equipment (PPE) selection and use compliance by developing performance and design requirements.

Project contact: Selcen Kilinc-Balci
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-4086
Project period: 2015-2023

Disaster Science Responder Research (DSRR) Program

The DSRR Program promotes the implementation of timely and scalable research to improve responder safety and health. Specifically, the mission of the DSRR is to inform approaches for conducting research during a disaster and create mechanisms for overcoming the associated logistical, technical and administrative burdens that researchers will encounter during an emergency response. The program will also develop a NIOSH research agenda to address research gaps in responder safety and health.

Project contact: Angela Weber
Office of the Director
(404) 639-0716
Project period: 2015-2026

Preventing Illicit Drug Occupational Exposures to Emergency Responders and Healthcare Workers

The purpose of this project is to improve worker protections by identifying research needs related to illicit drug exposure to healthcare workers and emergency responders. Three tasks will be performed simultaneously to identify new/emerging illicit drug threats, collect empirical data for PPE performance when challenged with opioids, and evaluating the adherence of NIOSH’s current opioid guidance in hospital and clinical settings. NIOSH will coordinate with manufacturers, researchers, regulators, labor, associations, and field-based personnel to implement corrective measures.

Project contact: Jonathan Szalajda
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-6627
Project period: 2018-2022

EMS and Firefighter Operations and Exposure Characteristics

This project seeks to leverage recent private sector advancements in surveillance and analysis tools for the fire service, which includes firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS). These tools will be used to provide important information about fire service operations and exposures.

Project contact: Emily Haas
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-4627
Project period: 2020-2022

Interventions to Protect Ambulance-based Healthcare Workers During Pandemic Response

This project aims to reduce the potential for transmission of disease via infectious bioaerosols in the prehospital environment by identifying interventions for isolating the aerosols generated during intubations to prevent them from infecting EMS providers. This will allow this life saving medical procedure to be performed while en route. The project will also develop interventions to clear the air of infectious aerosols after a patient has left the ambulance so EMS providers can re-enter the space safely to resume their work in transporting other patients.

Project contact: Dylan Neu
Division of Field Studies and Engineering
(513) 841-4549
Project period: 2020-2022

Perceived Risk of Injury to Public Safety Workers from Opioid Crisis

The purpose of this project is to address the health and safety of first responders when responding to opioid overdose scenes or other situations where they may be exposed to opioids. The specific aims for this project are to: 1) identify factors related to occupational injuries in first responders when responding to an opioid overdose scene or other situations where opioid exposure may occur, 2) identify best practices and develop educational materials and tools for use by first responders when responding to an overdose scene or other situations where they may be exposed to opioids, 3) identify barriers/facilitators to the uptake and adoption of education materials and tools by first responders, and 4) disseminate findings, lessons learned, and promising protective work practices back to stakeholders and the first responder community.

Project contact: Paula Grubb
Division of Science Integration
(513) 533-8179
Project period: 2018-2024

Development of Improved Test Methods for Assessing Liquid and Viral Penetration Through Healthcare Worker and Emergency Medical Services Personal Protective Equipment

The purpose of this project is to improve understanding of the factors contributing to viral penetration through gowns, coveralls and aprons used by healthcare workers and emergency responders and develop improved test methods for assessing liquid and viral penetration through healthcare worker and emergency medical service Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Project contact: Lee Portnoff
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-5570
Project period: 2015-2022

Using Safety Climate Metrics to Establish Evidence-based PPE Management Practices

This project seeks to characterize the relationship between psychosocial safety climate and organizational climate perceptions and personal protective equipment (PPE) management practices associated with the implementation of a new respiratory protective device into an organization’s Respiratory Protection Program. Subsequently, it will address relevant individual and organization-level safety climate factors that influence successful implementation, use and maintenance of respiratory protection in both healthcare and first responder settings to reduce mental health challenges among health workers.

Project contact: Emily Haas
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-4627
Project period: 2022-2023

Page last reviewed: August 18, 2022