|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 http://www.osha.gov.|
December 21, 1990
||LINDA R. ANKU|
||LEO CAREY, DIRECTOR|
OFFICE OF FIELD PROGRAMS
||PATRICIA K. CLARK, DIRECTOR|
DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS
||Protective equipment for fire fighters engaged in aircraft crash and rescue operations|
This is in response to your inquiry of October 24, asking whether employee protective clothing designed for structural fire fighting can also be worn or used by employees engaged in airport crash and rescue operations. We have determined that protective clothing meeting the requirements of OSHA's 1910.156(e) may be used by employees for both structural and airport crash and rescue fire fighting. This issue arose when citations were issued to the U.S. Army Transportationcenter and the Oceanic Naval Air Station for not providing Crash Fire Rescue (CFR) protective clothing to their employees engaged in airport crash and rescue operations.
OSHA recognizes that changes in design and materials of structural fire fighting protective clothing have resulted in state of the art gear that provides equal or greater protection as that afforded by Crash Fire Rescue (CFR) suits. Under our 1910.120(q)(3)(iii), Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard, OSHA allows employees performing fire fighting operations beyond the incipient stage to wear protective clothing of the same type as that worn by employees performing interior structural fire fighting "for any incident or site."
Similarly, the 1991 draft edition of NFPA 1971, "Standard on Protective Clothing for Structural Fire Fighting" also recognizes the changes in the state of the art of structural fire fighting protective equipment. The 1991 draft softened the language contained in the warning label affixed to each garment by removing the "do not use..." language of the current 1986 edition and replacing it with the "...may not..." language of the current draft.
In summary, OSHA will not issue citations to employers whose employees perform both structural firefighting and crash fire rescue operations while wearing structural fire fighting protective equipment, so long as the protective garments are used and maintained in accordance with NFPA 1971 and 29 CFR 1910.156.