OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
January 8, 1998
Special Risks to Firefighters Involved in Interior Structural Firefighting
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Protection Association.
- 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.
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