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Thread: NFPA Compliance

  1. #1
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    Default NFPA Compliance

    I recently heard of a court case where even though the municipality had not adopted NFPA standards, they were still recognized. I believe it was a line of duty injury where the court found management did not follow minimum acceptable safety standards.

    Can anyone help me with this one?

    Joe


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    Hi:

    Can't help you with the specific case, but it is not uncommon for an NFPA standard to be enforced/upheld in court, even if not adopted in the jurisdiction.

    Courts will recognize them as the consensus industry standard.

    Interested to hear more.
    Stay Safe.
    You asked for my opinion, now you have it. Any similarity to another opinion, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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    Maybe it is an urban legend that NFPA is used in court against the fire service. How about someone posting a citation in a law review for us all to read? No more hearsay.

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    Can NFPA standards be used in unfair labor practices or to force a city to move towards the standard? How about if a safety issue is involved?

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    tkrzm,

    That's a good question. But one thing you definately have to be careful is, what you pick to use as a standard. Then they can turn around and make you follow a standard you do not totally agree with. I couldn't see it being used in a ULP, because it is a standard for service, or basically I was always told in non NFPA states, a recommendation.

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    This is not hearsay. I DID see this in print but I can't remember if it was on this site or in one of the trade journals.

    The jist of the article was " although the employer was not mandated to follow the standard, the court recognized it as an accepted practice." (my words).

    Joe

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    Greetings,

    The one thing that comes to mind in reference to a case like this would be if the F.D. or municipality used even one iota of any NFPA standard. If they did, then I could understand why the court ruled that way. You can't have it one way and not the other. I have said it before, even if a F.D., City or State is not an NFPA state, those standards set fourth will be held against you if someone gets injured or killed. That goes for Professional Firefighters or volunteers.

    I am a big advocate of NFPA standards that benefit the fire service. Especially those that are for safety (i.e. equipment, manning, health, etc...) For a City or F.D. to say that it cost too much money to except these standards, they are basically saying that they don't care about our health and safety.

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    For those who are looking for a case try looking up Drennan v. City of New York.

    I belive this one of many NYC had pending against itself. There were 100s pending in the Late 80s and early 90s.

    If memory serves it was in regards to them not providing adequate PPE. (3/4s and long coats) The Plantiffs lawyers arguements used the fact that the Dept. was not meeting NFPA standards to help their case even though NY is an OSHA state.
    I think this was the first case in which the city was found liable and in part led to the bunker gear being issued in the FDNY.

    I hope that helps.

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    FRED

    "I think this was the first case in which the city was found liable and in part led to the bunker gear being issued in the FDNY."

    Less than 90 days after Mayor Giuliani was sworn in, Capt Drennan and two firefighters, Young and Siedenburg, were injured and subsequently succumbed to burn injuries.

    The Mayor, having visited and seeing the results of this fire on these members, placed Bunker Gear as priority #1. I don't remember the exact time frame, but 11,000 members were outfitted with bunker gear in an astonishingly short amount of time.

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    What is interesting much of the rest of the world used bunker pants for 40 years before that event. So the suit is OSHA, not really NFPA.

    So try that same game with staffing of 6 versus whatever you've got on a rig now.

  11. #11
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    One of the terms used during lawsuits involving employee injuries is "common industry practice". The principal is the same as using a "common man" theory to determine if the actions taken by an accused would be consistant with those taken by the "common man". In the case of using NFPA standards, an attorney will use NFPA standards and professional publications to demonstrate what is a typically accepted industry practice. This issue came out when NFPA 1500 was first published.

    One method suggested at the time was for a department to develop an implementation plan for 1500. Areas where the department was not in compliance, a time-frame and plan needed to be established, or the department needed to develop written justification for not intending to come into compliance. An example would be Boston Fire not using protective trousers. A specific procedure was developed, with guidelines for application and circumstances, as well as specific justification.

    Something departments might want to do is review the NFPA documents that apply to fire departments, and develop an implementation policy for these documents. With all the issues coming up concerning the new operations standards, many departments can adequately justify non-compliance due to local conditions. If a department has reviewed the document and developed a clear and accurate evaluation of the application tot he local community, they can provide themselves a certain level of protection from the document being used against them.

    This does not protect the town that read an artical in a magazine and decided that they couldn't afford compliance. Half of the people I have talked to concerning NFPA haven't even read the specific documents they are complianing about. Not that NFPA doesn't come up with some "wacky"(?) stuff. But at least read the article and evaluate what your department would have to do to comply with the requirements.

    [ 07-05-2001: Message edited by: FP&LS Guy ]

    [ 07-05-2001: Message edited by: FP&LS Guy ]
    Tom
    The Fire Service ... where there is a right way, a wrong way, the Chief's way, the Deputy's way, the Captain's way, the Lieutenant's way ....

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