Evaluation of Intrinsic Safety for Emergency Responder Electronic Safety Equipment

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Evaluation of Intrinsic Safety for Emergency Responder Electronic Safety Equipment" (PDF, 2 MB)
Author: Wayne C. Haase Ph.D., Summit Associates
Date of issue: December 2013


The Electronic Safety Equipment (ESE) used by emergency responders is required to operate in hostile environments, and as a result it is generally required to be intrinsically safe for use in combustible and flammable atmospheres.

Current intrinsic safety requirements (in NFPA 1801, 1981, and 1982) for various emergency responder electronics are inconsistent and lack a comprehensive technical basis, despite their side-by-side use in the same hazardous environments. These requirements have evolved by applying fixed location intrinsic safety ESE-design approaches to portable equipment. The intrinsic safety ESE design problem is twofold: (i) under-designed ESE may possibly provide an ignition source in combustible and flammable atmospheres, while (ii) over-designed ESE sacrifice other critical operational features (e.g., power supply optimization).

Earlier efforts to address this topic have only considered emergency responder ESE independently and not all the equipment together in the overall ensemble. This project intends to assess the overall ESE package against the anticipated fire ground hazardous environment, and provide recommendations for optimum approaches for emergency responder ESE intrinsic safety requirements. The goal of this project is to use a hazard analysis approach to provide a synergistic evaluation of intrinsic safety requirements across all emergency responder ESE and anticipated hazard environments, and ultimately supports scientifically-based recommendations for the optimum ESE intrinsic safety requirements.