Firefighters personal protective equipment – international Standards meeting held in Wellington
4 June 2010
Fire safety equipment experts from around the world recently met in Wellington to discuss international Standards for protective clothing for firefighters.
Ten countries were represented at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Firefighters' Personal Equipment subcommittee meeting (ISO TC 94 SC 14) held 24 to 28 May 2010. New Zealand Fire Service Senior Adviser Keith Whale,a New Zealand representative on ISO TC 94 SC 14, says it was a very productive meeting.
'We were able to find common ground in a number of areas,' Whale says. 'One outcome from the meeting is that we are now moving forward on a final draft of an international Standard on protective clothing for wildland fires. We plan to have this draft Standard out for consultation by the end of the year.'
Members of ISO TC 94 SC 14 also discussed development of an international Standard on test methods and requirements for personal protective equipment used for fighting fires in structures.
'At past ISO TC 94 SC 14 meetings there have been a number of hurdles to jump, especially when considering personal protective equipment for fighting structure fires,' says Whale. 'That's in large part because each country has had a long history in fighting structure fires in its own way and sometimes hasn't considered other options or fully appreciated the new technology that's available for protective equipment – this has impeded the development of international Standards. But at the end of this 5-day meeting it was clear that as countries we have much to gain by working toward common solutions through international Standards development.'
ISO TC 94 SC 14 was set up in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City and has since been active in the development of personal protective equipment Standards for firefighters. Members of ISO TC 94 SC 14 first determine the types of hazards that a firefighter will face, such as structure firefighting, wildland firefighting, hazardous chemical incidents, and rescue operations. The subcommittee then develops Standards to address those situations.
Whale says that during the meeting subcommittee members agreed to ask ISO to consider additional items of work for ISO TC 94 SC 14. 'Around the world we are seeing an increase in firefighters and other emergency personnel being called into incidents involving hazardous materials. There was agreement at the meeting that we need to develop Standards that provide specifications and guidance in this area.'
Subcommittee members will continue to contribute toward Standards development between now and when ISO TC 94 SC 14 next meets in May 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland.
ISO 11613:1999 Protective clothing for firefighters – Laboratory test methods and performance requirements
ISO 15383:2001 Protective gloves for firefighters – Laboratory test methods and performance requirements
ISO 15384:2003 Protective clothing for firefighters – Laboratory test methods and performance requirements for wildland firefighting clothing
ISO 15538:2001 Protective clothing for firefighters – Laboratory test methods and performance requirements for protective clothing with a reflective outer surface
ISO/TR 21808:2009 Guidance on the selection, use, care and maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to provide protection for firefighters
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