OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

January 29, 1991

Mr. Richard H. Timms Chief
Seneca Fire Department
City of Seneca
Post Office Box 4773
Seneca, South Carolina 29679

Dear Mr. Timms:

This is in response to your letter of November 12, 1990, in which you sought answers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to your questions concerning the intervals between physical examinations for employees performing interior structural firefighting. You also asked whether employers are required to comply with the respirator use requirements of both National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981 and of OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.134 and .156. Please excuse the delay in our response.

First, in response to your question concerning intervals at which physical examinations are to be repeated for members performing interior structural firefighting, OSHA specifies in Appendix A of Subpart L, Fire Protection, 1910.156(4) that physical examinations are not the only way members of a fire brigade performing interior structural firefighting can be determined to be physically capable of performing those duties. A physical performance test is another way to make that determination.

Second, OSHA standards do not require that physical examinations be repeated at any particular intervals, but only that employees performing interior structural firefighting be physically capable of performing duties. Employers are responsible for determining the intervals between physical examination. However, Dr. Richard Kuehue, Department of Occupational Health and Safety, International Association of Fire Fighters, informed us that his association follows the recommendation of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1500, Sections 8-1.1-8.2, which mandates that such examinations be provided on both a preplacement basis and at least annually thereafter. A copy of these sections is provided for your information.

With respect to your question concerning compliance with respirator requirements, OSHA does not require employer compliance with NFPA 1981 standards, which are more stringent than OSHA's respirator standards found at 1910.134 and .156.

While we cannot enforce the more stringent standards, OSHA does not discourage employer adoption of them as a means of providing maximum employee safety and health protection.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact James C. Dillard, a member of my staff, at (202) 523-8041.



Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs