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David Fischler, a retired fire commissioner from the Suffolk County, NY, Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, was named committee chair for NFPA 1917. Fischler brought more than 30 years of experience to the process and it was his job to keep the group focused on developing standards for the construction and operation of ambulances.
The NFPA 1917 Technical Committee met numerous times over a two-year period and there were two rigorous public comment periods on the draft standard where many weighed in with comments. The NFPA 1917 process was very inclusive and involved many more non-fire participants than fire participants. The NFPA’s standard-development consensus is a proven process; there were two thorough and open comment periods when comments received from the public were taken into consideration; and finally the standard went through a proven adoption process. Despite all that, there are some who oppose NFPA 1917 – even though there is no other standard to protect those who ride in or operate ambulances.
What do opponents want?
There is belief that those opposed to NFPA 1917 are against it because the word “fire” is attached to the development due to the NFPA process and the genesis of the standard was started by the IAFC. Others do not think it is a good process because those who sat on the committee did not use science to develop the standard, while still others cannot give a reason; they are just against it because there are specific areas of the standard they do not like; so they choose to be against the entire NFPA 1917 standard. While the standard’s opponents cannot make any changes now, NFPA 1917 will be open for review in two years, as with any NFPA standard.
In late September, the National Association of State EMS Officials met in Boise, ID, and ambulance safety, standards and design were on the agenda, since all states regulate ambulance design and licensing. The attendees heard presentations on NFPA 1917. The Federal Standard KKK-A-1822F is going to “sunset” and states are trying to figure out what to do with their laws, including adopting the NFPA standard or some part of it.
Whatever comes of NFPA 1917, hopefully those who are against it will work through all the issues with those who endorse it and finally we can have a standard to protect everyone who works or rides in an ambulance and all of our people can go home safe at the end of their shift. n