NFPA Approves 1710 Standard For Staffing Career Units

For the first time in its long history, the American fire-rescue service has a national standard covering the deployment and staffing of fire companies on career departments. With labor and management working together, delegates to the National Fire...


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Phoenix Fire Chief Alan Brunacini, chairman of the 1710 committee, calls it a "major breakthrough that gives us a standard that covers the deployment, staffing and response times of fire companies." He points out that in the past, outside organizations such as insurance companies set the standards for fire department operations, but this is the first time that experienced fire service leaders are establishing the level of fire and EMS protection their departments should deliver.

IAFF President Schaitberger acknowledges that the controversy was over "employment as well as deployment," but adds that the real goal was to "make the job safer and produce better fire departments … We won because we were right and because the fire service was unified.'

Garry Briese, the IAFC's executive director, cites the importance of the union and the chiefs working together for the safety of their firefighters and the citizens they protect. "This gives fire chiefs a tool to use to achieve standards they know are right, even when local government may balk at spending the money," Briese said.

Now that 1710 has been passed by the NFPA membership, it goes back to the Standards Council for a final review, where it's almost certain that opponents will file an appeal seeking to have it set aside. Presuming that the council holds its ground and rejects that appeal, organizations representing local governments also may try to challenge it in the courts.

It will take time for the full impact of NFPA 1710 to make itself felt. Many understaffed fire departments will be unable to meet the new standard for several years and everyone realizes that some may never achieve those goals. But, for the first time in two decades, there finally is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, it signals the beginning of the end for two- and three-man fire companies on most of the nation's career fire departments.


Hal Bruno, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a retired political director for ABC News in Washington and served almost 40 years as a volunteer firefighter. He is a director of the Chevy Chase, MD, Fire Department and chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.