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July 26, 1995

Changes proposed to safety standards for fire fighters

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries announced today proposed changes to safety standards for firefighters. Public hearings are scheduled for August.

The proposed amendments to the current firefighting standard are industry-initiated and, as required by statute, bring the state standard to be "at least as effective as" federal standards.

Many of the proposed changes are housekeeping in nature, including federally mandated language changes. Other changes incorporate National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations that exceed federal standards.

Proposed changes include:

  • Personal protective equipment and protective clothing. The proposed rules require that station/work pants be made of more effective fire-resistant material. Currently, some pants are made of polyester that is prone to sticking to, and burning, an individual when faced with a fire hazard.
  • Personal alert safety system (PASS) protection. Although many fire departments and fire protection districts have PASS devices used to monitor firefighter activity, the proposed rules would require the use of PASS devices when fire fighters are required to use self-contained breathing apparatus in hazardous areas.
  • Respiratory equipment protection. Current language recommends semi-annual testing of compressed air quality. The proposed changes require at least quarterly testing of compressed air quality.
  • Wildland protective clothing and equipment for wildland fire-fighting. The proposed rule would require persons performing suppression of a wildland fire to wear provided protective clothing complying with the NFPA recommendations.

Public comment will be taken at four public hearings in the following locations:

  • 9:30 a.m. Aug. 22, Spokane Fire Protection District 1, Valley Fire Department, N. 2411 Pioneer Lane, Spokane.
  • 9:30 a.m., Aug. 23, Providence Medical Center, 110 S. Ninth Ave., Yakima.
  • 1 p.m., Aug. 24, Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel (formerly West Coast Everett Pacific Hotel), 3105 Pine, Everett.
  • 1 p.m. Aug. 25, Department of Social and Health Services, OB-2 Building Auditorium, 1115 Washington St. S.E., Olympia.

Permanent rule adoption is scheduled for Dec. 5, 1995, with an effective date of April 1, 1996.

The proposed changes are the result of more than 3 years of work by a 21-person fire service safety standard advisory committee.

Fire service safety standard advisory committee members include:

  • Ray Allen, commissioner, Spokane County FPD 1
  • Jack Andren, Local 2175 Pierce County Fire Fighters
  • Greg Boar, Local 29 Spokane
  • Jim Cason, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters
  • Doug Christensen, Local 1488 Lakewood
  • Steve Alder, chief, Ellensburg Fire Department
  • Ron Anderson, chief, Franklin County Fire Protection District 3
  • Robert Barnard, DCD Fire Protection Services
  • Jim Davis, chief, Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District
  • Mike Guerin, chief, Olympia Fire Department
  • Ken Hiegh, Local 27 Seattle
  • Chuck Soros, Seattle Fire Department
  • Mark Kimm, assistant chief, Yakima Fire District 5
  • Tom Lowe, chief, Clallam County Fire District 3
  • John Montague, chief, Cheney Fire Department
  • Donald Leggett, commissioner, King County Fire District 36
  • John Viada, Department of Natural Resources
  • Tom Ford, Department of Labor & Industries
  • Patricia Wolheter, Department of Labor & Industries
  • Mark Close, Department of Labor & Industries
  • Eric Tabb, Department of Labor & Industries

Written comments may be submitted to Frank Leuck, Assistant Director, Division of Consultation and Compliance, PO Box 44620, Olympia, WA 98504-4620 or by fax at 360-902-5529 by Sept. 25, 1995. Comments submitted by fax must be 10 pages or less. For a copy of the proposed rules, write to the above address or call 360-902-4622.

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