Legal Impact of NFPA 1500 on Fire Service Essay

Pages: 5 (1354 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Law

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[. . .] In the City of Allentown v. International Association of Fire Fighters Local 302, Hall (2017) points out that the court was of the opinion that “the city's claim that a minimum staffing requirement interferes with its management by driving up overtime and pension costs does not show an impact as direct as that on firefighter safety.” This essentially upheld NFPA’s Rapid Intervention Crew/Company (RIC) as well as Members Operating at Emergency Incidents recommendations.

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It is also important to note that in recent times, most particularly in the month of October 2018, the Washington state’s Department of Labor and Statistics upheld an Occupational Safety and Health Administration fine against the fire department of the state for understaffing. In the words of Verone (2018), “the Camas-Washougal Fire Department was cited for violating the state’s version of OSHA’s two-in two-out requirement at a house fire last March.” It is important to note that as per the Members Operating at Emergency Incidents NFPA 1500 standard 8.5.7, at the onset of an undertaking in which case there is only a single crew “operating in the hazardous area at a working structural fire, a minimum of four individuals shall be required, consisting of two individuals working as a crew in the hazardous area and two individuals present outside this hazardous area” (NFPA, 2006). According to Verone (2006), in this particular case, case, the engine that was the first to arrive on-site had only two fire fighters. These firefighters did not wait for additional personnel and they proceeded to rescue a victim who had been trapped in an inferno. For this specific violation, the state fire department was issued with a $4,800 fine.

Essay on Legal Impact of NFPA 1500 on Fire Service Assignment

The two examples highlighted herein are just a few of the other numerous instances where the fire service has been on the receiving end as a consequence of failure to adhere to the NFPA1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program. It should, however, be noted that the staffing requirements have been the subject of significant controversy in the past. This is more so the case given that questions relating to the acquisition of the appropriate balance between the need to save property and lives and the safety of firefighters have been floated. For instance, “when an understaffed company located at a remote station encounters a working structure fire, it is forced to make difficult decisions regarding its personal safety versus its commitment to saving lives and property” (Smoke, 2005). For instance, in the case recited above, the first engine to arrive at the scene had only two firefighters. The two had to make a decision on whether to wait for their colleagues so as to avoid violating the two-in two-out recommendation. At the time, there was a person trapped in the inferno. Situations like these would perhaps necessitate a review of the standards.

Conclusion

The impact the NFPA 1500 has had on the fire service is significant. In essence, it has helped reduce not only the severity, but also the frequency of both injuries and accidents suffered by fire men in the line of duty. Operations taking place on-scene no longer involve a cowboy approach or freelancing. In the final analysis, with standards in place addressing the well-being, safety as well as health of those in the fire service, efficiency is likely to be enhanced, while at the same time reducing both the occurrence and frequency of fatalities.

References
  1. Hall, P. (2017). High Court Upholds Minimum Staffing Decision For Allentown Firefighters. Retrieved from https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-firefighters-minimum-manpower-decision-20170328-story.html
  2. NFPA (2006). NFPA 1500 Standard on  Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program  2007 Edition. Retrieved from http://www.abdurrahmanince.net/sofdosahp_2007.pdf
  3. Roman, J. (2017). We Drove Like We Were Crazy. Retrieved from https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications/NFPA-Journal/2017/January-February-2017/Features/NFPA-1500
  4. Smoke, C.H. (2005). Company Officer (2nd ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning
  5. Verone, C. (2018). Fine against Washington Fire Department for Understaffing Upheld. Retrieved from http://www.firelawblog.com/2018/10/04/fine-against-washington-fire-department-for-understaffing-upheld/
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