NFPA 101: NFPA 1971 all about protecting firefighters

Firefighting is a dangerous job. Firefighters come in contact with extreme temperatures and biohazards, as well as physical and environmental factors on a daily basis. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) develops standards for personal protective equipment to help reduce the burden of fire and other exposures to firefighters. These standards are typically revised every five years.

NFPA 1971, 2007 Ed. Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.

This standard specifies the minimum requirements for both structural and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements. Ensembles and ensemble elements are required to provide limited protection from thermal exposures where high levels of radiant heat as well as convective and conductive heat are released, and from physical, environmental, common chemical and bloodborne pathogen hazards encountered during structural and proximity fire fighting. Ensemble elements refer to coats, pants, coveralls, helmets, hoods, gloves, footwear, and interface items.

The 2007 edition also provides optional requirements for protection from escape from CBRN terrorism incidents. This optional protection applies to the complete ensemble including the CBRN SCBA protection. These optional requirements apply to both the structural fire fighting and proximity fire fighting protective ensembles and are built into the construction of the regular ensemble elements so that nothing needs to added or taken away in order to achieve both basic fire fighting protection and CBRN protection. The CBRN requirements do not diminish the protection of the basic structural or proximity fire fighting ensembles and are to be used for escape from hot zone only.

Structural and proximity fire fighting ensembles are made to the latest edition of the standard at the time of manufacturing. Firefighters are not required to purchase new gear when a new edition is published but future purchases must comply with the new edition. It’s a good idea to check the product label to see what edition of NFPA 1971 it is certified to.

The full NFPA 1971 standard is available for purchase through NFPA at

Editor’s note: This is the second 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.

One thought on “NFPA 101: NFPA 1971 all about protecting firefighters”

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