NFPA membership totals more than 81,000 individuals around the world and more than 80 national trade and professional organizations. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a non-profit organization established in 1896 to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. The codes written by the NFPA are considered the standard that fire departments are expected to meet. These codes include everything from safety equipment worn by fire fighters, apparatus and equipment used in the fire service to minimum staffing of a career fire department. These codes not only protect fire fighters, but also protect citizens by giving cities standards of operation that are expected to be met. NFPA codes are not laws, but rather standards of quality to ensure the health and safety of everyone affected by any fire department.
The world's leading advocate of fire prevention and an authoritative source on public safety, NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. NFPA guidelines are set up based on scientific research, such as fire behavior in different environments and how different synthetic materials affect the burn process. Previous history of fire department responses across the country can help the NFPA to have standards of how many firefighters it takes to effectively perform necessary tasks. Independent studies performed by groups like the American Heart Association help the NFPA in writing codes regarding EMS response. NFPA is such a respected organization in the fire department community that many cities and departments are adopting strict NFPA guidelines to make their fire departments up to national standards.
Why does this matter to you?
NFPA Code 1710-Standard for Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments- involves staffing of career fire departments. In this code, the NFPA has used scientific evidence, past history and first hand experience to establish the minimum number of personnel required to safely and effectively operate on a fire scene. NFPA 1710 guidelines say that a first arriving company must consist of 4 fire fighters and arrive within 4 minutes of the initial 911 call. For an initial full alarm assignment (any structure fire) minimum personnel on scene should consist of 15-17 fire fighters arriving on scene within 8 minutes of the initial 911 call.
VERY IMPORTANT TO YOU, THE POTENTIAL VICTIM:
NFPA doctrines are most frequently found in common law negligence claims.
NFPA 1710 could be highly relevant to the question of whether a jurisdiction has negligently failed to provide adequate fire or emergency medical protection to an individual harmed in a fire or medical emergency.
Jurisdictions assume some additional legal risk by failing to abide by NFPA 1710, even where it has failed to adopt the standard.
International City Managers Association (ICMA) Study
Understaffing of fire departments is a nationwide problem. So much so in fact, that the ICMA has conducted studies to determine the effectiveness of fire companies based on staffing. This information was then published under the title Managing Fire Services, 2nd edition. This international organization of city leaders recognizes the importance of a properly staffed fire department. This publication included this information:
1. Fire suppression operations have three basic functions: (1) RESCUE; (2) work involving ladder, forcible entry, and ventilation; and (3) the application of water. To raise ladders, ventilate, search, and RESCUE simultaneously takes quick action by at least FOUR and often EIGHT or more firefighters, each under the supervision of an officer.
2. If about SIXTEEN trained firefighters are not operating at the scene of a working fire within the critical time period, then DOLLAR LOSS and INJURIES are significantly INCREASED as is fire spread.
3. As firefighting tactics were conducted and judged for effectiveness:
5 -person companies were 100% effective.
4 -person companies were 65% effective.
3 -person companies were 38% effective.
Kingston Professional Firefighters regularly respond with only 2 person companies!
IAFC International Association of Fire Chiefs
Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Division
In order to permit the effective operation of fire companies at the scene of a structure fire, the minimum number of personnel on both engine and ladder companies should be five members per unit.
The Metro Chiefs recognize that current economic difficulties are affecting public safety organizations nationwide but these factors do not alter the tasks that must be accomplished at the fire scene.
The decline in the number of members per unit, as well as the reduction in the number of fire companies in cities, have already reached a dangerously low level. To accept or support further reductions is inappropriate.
1991 NFPA Fire Protection Handbook
1. Seriously UNDERSTAFFED fire companies generally are limited to the use of small hose streams until additional help arrives. Often this action may be totally ineffective in containing even a small fire and in conducting effective RESCUE operations.
NFPA 1410 National Fire Protection Association - Training Standard on Initial Attack
1. It is STRONGLY recommended that interior fire fighting operations NOT be conducted without an adequate number of qualified fire fighters.......
2. It is recommended that a MINIMUM acceptable fire company staffing level consist of FOUR members responding or arriving with each engine or aerial ladder company responding to ANY type of fire.
NFPA 1500 National Fire Protection Association - Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program
1. It is recommended that a MINIMUM acceptable fire company staffing level should be FOUR members responding on or arriving with EACH engine and each ladder company responding to ANY type of fire.
2. During actual emergencies, the effectiveness of companies can become CRITICAL to the safety and health of fire fighters. Potentially FATAL work environments can be created very rapidly in many fire situations.
DID YOU KNOW....
•THAT DURING THE BEGINNING STAGES, A FIRE WILL DOUBLE IN SIZE EVERY 30 SECONDS?
•THAT DURING A SUDDEN HEART ATTACK, CHANCES OF SURVIVAL ARE DRASTICALLY REDUCED IF CPR AND DEFIBRILLATION ARE NOT PROVIDED WITHIN 5 TO 7 MINUTES?*
•THAT IN FACT, EVERY MINUTE THAT DEFIBRILLATION IS DELAYED REDUCES THE VICTIM'S CHANCE OF SURVIVAL 10%
•THAT THE KINGSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT CURRENTLY HAS A RESPONSE TIME OF 3 MINUTES TO EMERGENCY CALLS?
•THAT A FEW EXTRA MINUTES CAN OFTEN BE THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIVES AND PROPERTY SAVED...
... OR LOST!!!
*CPR Facts according to the American Heart Association
This video, made by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Testing) shows the danger of "modern" fires compared to the danger of fires occuring 40 years ago. Keep your eye on the clock!
The room on the left is furnished with old fashioned furnishings, made mostly with natural materials (wood, cotton, wool, silk, etc).
The room on the right is furnished with stuff made largely with synthetic material. Most synthetics are petroleum based. Think of them as frozen gasoline.
The legacy room fire is just begining to really spread at the time the modern room is burning from floor to ceiling. Even the air is burning!
Think about this next time somone tells you that "response time" will only be slightly increased. If you or a loved one is in the fire apartment or house, a slight increase is NOT acceptable.