NFPA 101: NFPA 1851 strives to reduce health and safety risks

Firefighting is a dirty, gritty job. Turnout gear that is exposed to fire ground contaminants, as well as bio-hazards (blood-borne pathogens), can be a danger to firefighters’ health. Also, burnt, torn and damaged gear can be a safety risk. Proper care and maintenance helps keep the protective performance of your gear intact. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has designated a standard to help keep turnout gear safer, longer.

NFPA 1851, 2008 Ed. Standard on Selection, Care and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.

How often does your department require that your gear be cleaned and inspected?

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This standard specifies the minimum selection, care, and maintenance requirements for structural fire fighting and proximity fire fighting protective ensembles and ensemble elements. The purpose of the standard is to establish a program for the fire department to reduce safety risks and potential health risks associated with poorly maintained, contaminated, or damaged protective ensembles and ensemble elements. In addition, this standard also establishes criteria for selection, inspection, cleaning, decontamination, repair, storage, and retirement.

The NFPA 1851 provides a great resource for ensuring professional maintenance of your gear. Verified Independent Service Providers have passed testing and audit of a 3rd party independent certification organization (UL or Intertek). Taking your gear routinely to a verified ISP can help ensure the proper level of protection, extend the life of the gear and prevent or solve safety problems.

The full NFPA 1851 standard is available for purchase through NFPA at

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of NFPA 101 features written to give you quick insight into the NFPA standards around firefighter, EMS and first responder protective clothing and equipment.

2 thoughts on “NFPA 101: NFPA 1851 strives to reduce health and safety risks”

  1. Until resent budget cuts, Houston Fire provided PPE cleaning twice a year but when attempting to trim the Cy10 Fire budget the Administration decision was to go to an annual cleaning. We will have to wait to see the effect of this change. Although we hope the decision to drop one clean cycle is not detrimental to the protective garments, we are curious to see how much it well affects the repair cost. The Local’s will be watching to see how we need to respond to this change.

    Stay low, stay cool and be safe,

    Joel Calfee
    HPFFA Local 341
    Health and Safety Chairman

  2. Our gear is cleaned twice a year no matter what and soon it will have to be cleaned after each time it is contaminted to comply with our state regulations.

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