January 8, 1998
Special Risks to Firefighters Involved
in Interior Structural Firefighting
Special hazards confronting firefighters
Special hazards of interior structural fires
- Great personal danger and inherent urgency.
- Need to enter a hazardous situation from which others are fleeing.
- No ability to schedule work to minimize stresses (e.g, fatigue, heat).
- Sometimes must depend on people outside for rescue.
Interior structural firefighting ("two-in / two-out")
- Produce an IDLH atmosphere. (An interior structural fire
is always an IDLH situation, by definition.)
- Result in uncontrolled and unpredictable situations.
- Take place in poorly characterized and unfamiliar settings.
- Involve rapidly deteriorating circumstances in which normal
systems, facilities, and processes have already failed.
- Require establishment of site-specific communication
and rescue systems for each situation.
Coverage of Firefighters
- Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs) are required
for IDLH atmospheres. (Interior attack of an interior structural
fire is always IDLH.)
Two firefighters must enter the burning building and remain
in visual and voice contact with each other at all times.
- Two firefighters must be on standby if two firefighters
are engaged in interior structural firefighting in a burning
building ("two-in / two-out").
- "Two-in" ensures that contact is maintained between
"buddies" so they can monitor each other's situation
(e.g., distress, equipment failure, entrapment, other hazards).
- "Two-out" assures that adequate personnel are immediately
available to monitor and account for those in the building,
initiate rescue, and call for necessary back-up personnel.
- As many as nineteen of the 25 state plan states and
territories have already adopted "two-in / two-out" as
policy. These states and territories are Alaska, Arizona,
Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland,
Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon,
Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.
- On the basis of firefighter safety, "two-in / two-out" is
strongly supported by information from the International
Association of Firefighters and the National Fire
- The federal standard will apply only to federal employees
who fight fires and to private-sector employees who fight fires
(e.g., those in industrial fire brigades and other private fire
companies). Federal OSHA has no jurisdiction over the many
firefighters who are state and local government employees or volunteers.
- Although OSHA has no jurisdiction over public sector
(state and local government) firefighters, the 25 states operating
OSHA-approved state plans do cover those workers.
- The states are expected to adopt a revised respiratory
protection standard within six months of federal promulgation
of a standard. State standards may differ but must provide
equivalent protection. It is through these state plan standards
that the "two-in / two-out" requirement will be applicable to
state and local government firefighters in these states.