|How NFPA documents address wildland fire safety issues
A number of NFPA codes and standards deal directly with wildland fire personnel and safety issues:
NFPA 1051, Standard for Wildland Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications, has its origin dating back to 1972, when the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations (JCNFSO) created the National Professional Qualifications Board for the Fire Service (NPQB) to facilitate the development of nationally applicable performance standards for uniformed fire service personnel. On December 14, 1972, the Board established four technical committees to develop those standards using NFPA standards-making system. The initial committees addressed the following career areas: fire fighter, fire officer, fire service instructor, and fire inspector and investigator.
The original concept of the professional qualification standards as directed by the JCNFSO and the NPQB was to develop an interrelated set of performance standards specifically for the fire service. The various levels of achievement in the standards were to build upon each other within a strictly defined career ladder. In the late 1980s, revisions of the standards recognized that the documents should stand upon their own merit in terms of job performance requirements for a given field. Accordingly, the strict career ladder concept was abandoned, except for the progression from fire fighter to fire officer. The later revisions, therefore, facilitated the use of the documents by other than the uniformed fire services.
In 1990, responsibility for the appointment of Professional Qualifications committees and the development of the Professional Qualifications Standards was assumed by NFPA.
The Correlating Committee on Professional Qualifications Standards was appointed by the NFPA Standards Council in 1990 and assumed the responsibility for coordinating the requirements of all of the Professional Qualifications documents. One of the first actions of the Technical Correlating Committee was to recommend that the Standards Council approve a proposed project to develop professional qualification requirements for wildfire suppression personnel. This recommendation was approved and the Technical Committee on Wildfire Suppression Professional Qualifications was appointed in 1991.
The committee met regularly between 1991 and 1994. A job task analysis was conducted, and the resulting information was used to develop the job performance requirements contained in this document. Throughout the process liaison was maintained with national and state level organizations, including the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, to ensure that the document would be accurate and would correlate with work that those groups were sponsoring simultaneously.
The intent of the technical committee was to develop clear and concise job performance requirements that can be used to determine that an individual, when measured to the standard, possesses the skills and knowledge to perform as a wildland fire fighter. The committee further contends that these job performance requirements are applicable to all agencies that respond to wildland fires.
NFPA 1143, Standard for Wildland Fire Management, was originally known as NFPA 295, titled Community Forest Fire Fighting Equipment, and was adopted by NFPA in 1934. The next edition was issued in 1956 as Community Equipment and Organization for Fighting Forest, Grass, and Brush Fires. The document was retitled Recommendations for Forest, Grass and Brush Fire Control when it was issued in 1965 and retitled again, as Recommendations for Wildfire Control and Environmental Improvement, in 1972. In 1973 the document became a standard and was titled Standard for Wildfire Control by Volunteer Fire Departments and carried that title in the 1978 edition. The document was titled Standard for Wildfire Control with the issuance of the 1985 edition.
NFPA 1144, Standard for Protection of Life and Property from Wildfire, was first developed by the Forest and Rural Fire Protection Committee, following the tragic wildfires that resulted in the loss of 44 lives and 1400 homes in the United States in 1985. More recent wildland/urban interface fires, such as the 1991 conflagration in Oakland, CA and the fires in Laguna Beach, CA (1993), and Malibu, CA (1996), have demonstrably shown that fire fighters are often placed in dangerous situations due to inadequate planning and design of roadways, signs, water supplies, and other infrastructure considerations as well as the increasing population of residential areas encroaching into wildland areas. The fire season of 2000 resulted in renewed interest for seeking more creative alternative methods to reduce historical trends of catastrophic fires.
Originally numbered NFPA 299, this document has been officially adopted by state and local governments and adapted for use by numerous jurisdictions involved in planning Firewise Communities. This edition, which has been renumbered as NFPA 1144, includes clarification of numerous requirements in the earlier editions and a significant revision of the Wildland Fire Risk and Hazard Severity Assessment system. The Committee increased the severity values for non-rated roofing, inadequate separation of vegetation from structures, and separation of structures from one another. The Committee tested various assessment system versions in several Firewise Communities Workshops, sponsored by the National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program, before arriving at the relative values and hazard levels in this document. The Committee supports use of these values as relative numbers for planning purposes.
This standard presents basic criteria for fire agencies, land use planners, architects, developers, and local government for planning development in areas that may be threatened by wildfire. This standard, when used in a cooperative approach among essential disciplines, will provide guidance in the design and development of Firewise Communities in or near wildland fire prone areas.
NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus , was published in 1995 to provide a standard for apparatus that are designed and deployed to combat fires in wildland. The document covered apparatus with pumps ranging in size from 20 gpm to 250 gpm (76 L/min to 950 L/min) and water tanks with a capacity of 125 gal (473 L) or more. Requirements were also provided for the first time for foam proportioning systems using Class A foam as a fire suppressant agent and for Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS). The apparatus covered in the standard included built-to-specification apparatus and fire-fighting packages designed to be slipped onto a vehicle chassis.
NFPA 1977, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting, was developed by the Technical Committee on Fire Service Protective Clothing and Equipment, which began work on this standard in April 1989 in answer to requests from the wildland fire service to establish a standard covering the protective clothing and equipment used by fire fighters during wildland fire-fighting operations. A subcommittee was formed, the Subcommittee on Wildland Fire Fighting Protective Clothing and Equipment, to develop the document. Based on information studied by this subcommittee, the majority of documented injuries to wildland fire fighters are related to heat stress. The goal of this standard was to provide thermal protection for the wildland fire fighter against external heat sources with flame-resistant clothing and equipment while not inducing an extraordinary internal heat stress load.