While the number of fire-related calls to U.S. fire departments has steadily declined in recent decades, the volume of calls to fire departments has continued to grow. As fire departments have become increasingly relied upon to provide emergency response to an ever-growing range of incidents, so have firefighters’ roles and responsibilities.
NFPA continually works to support fire departments by developing standards, trainings, resources and initiatives that help them perform their work as effectively and safely as possible, wherever they’re required to go. Similarly, NFPA has proactively addressed emerging issues in which fire departments have become actively involved. Following are some examples:
Active shooter/hostile events
Firefighters consistently serve as first responders at active shooter incidents and other hostile events. Currently, there are several guidance documents for individual organizations, but no single consensus standard that enables first responders, emergency managers, hospitals and communities to follow the same plan for responding to and handling these types of incidents. NFPA is now working in coordination with a host of leading organizations to develop NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events, which will deliver a cohesive, coordinated approach among organizations and facilities to respond to these events as effectively and safely as possible.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Emergency responders need to be adequately prepared to safely handle incidents involving alternative fuel vehicles (AFV). NFPA developed a comprehensive training and educational support program that enables firefighters and other emergency responders to safely and knowledgeably handle incidents involving AFVs. The program incorporates NFPA’s codes and standards for emergency responder qualifications, equipment and tactics, and vehicle fueling, as well as its standards for AFV charging stations, electrified truck parking spaces and the impact of the AFV charging infrastructure on power consumption and emergency response.
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), commonly referred to as drones, have been widely recognized by safety agencies nationwide as a powerful technology for assessing and responding to emergencies. NFPA is in the process of developing a new industry standard that will serve as a roadmap for safety agencies, providing requirements and guidance on sUAS incident operations and professional qualifications, as well as the selection, care and maintenance of the devices. Ultimately, the intent of NFPA 2400, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Used for Public Safety, is to give public safety agencies all the information they need to safely use sUAS in a single document.
NFPA has extensive experience developing standards for firefighting vehicles. With emergency medical services serving as a major responsibility for most fire departments, the development of NFPA 1917, Standard for Automotive Ambulances, reflects the progression of today’s fire service roles and responsibilities. NFPA 1917 addresses the minimum requirements for the design, performance and testing of new automotive ambulances used in emergency conditions to provide medical treatment and transportation of sick or injured people to appropriate medical facilities.