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NFPA 1851

Standard on Selection, Care,
and Maintenance of Structural
Fire Fighting Protective Ensembles



Current Edition 2008

2.1.1 - The organization shall develop and implement a program for the selection, care, and maintenance of structural firefighting protective ensembles and ensemble elements used by the members of the organization in the performance of their assigned functions.

2.3.1 - The organization shall compile and maintain records on their structural firefighting protective ensembles or ensemble elements.

2.3.2 - At least the following records shall be kept for each ensemble element:

  1. Person to whom element is issued
  2. Date and condition when issued
  3. Manufacturer's identification number, lot or serial number
  4. Month and year of manufacture
  5. Date(s) of and findings of advanced inspection(s)
  6. Date(s) of advanced cleaning or decontamination
  7. Reason for advanced cleaning or decontamination and who performed cleaning and decontamination
  8. Date(s) of repair(s), who performed repair(s), and brief description of any repair(s)
  9. Date of retirement
  10. Date and method of disposal

4.1.3 - The organization shall determine appropriate actions to be taken if an element is found to be in need of cleaning, decontamination, or repair.

4.2.1 - Each individual member shall conduct a routine inspection of their personal ensemble or ensemble elements after each use. The Organization shall establish what constitutes use to at least include each time the element(s) is exposed, or suspected of having been exposed, to damage or to contamination.

5.1.1 - Organizations shall provide a means for having elements cleaned and decontaminated.

5.1.2 - Soiled or contaminated elements shall not be brought into the home, washed in home laundries, or washed in public laundries unless the public laundry has a dedicated business to handle fire fighting protective clothing.

5.1.3 - Commercial dry cleaning shall not be used as a means of cleaning or decontaminating ensembles and ensemble elements unless approved by the ensemble manufacturer.

5.1.4 - When contract cleaning or decontamination is used, the contract cleaner shall demonstrate, to the organization's satisfaction, procedures for cleaning and decontamination that do not compromise the performance of ensembles and ensemble elements.

NFPA 1851 establishes criteria for setting up a program to reduce safety risks and potential health risks related to poorly maintained, contaminated, or damaged protective ensembles and ensemble elements manufactured to NFPA 1971. In June 2007, a revised edition of the original standard was issued. Program components covered by the standard are:

  1. Selection
  2. Inspection
  3. Cleaning and Decontamination
  4. Repair
  5. Storage
  6. Retirement
  7. Record Keeping
1. SELECTION
  • Perform risk assessment based on duties and hazards faced by your department.
  • Evaluate elements under consideration against risk assessment.
  • Ensure that elements under consideration will interface with other PPE elements with which they will be used.
  • Use a systematic method for comparing products when a field evaluation is conducted.
2. ROUTINE INSPECTION
  • Performed by the fire fighter after each use.
  • Look for:
    • Soiling
    • Contamination
    • Physical damage
    • Damaged or missing trim
    • Loss of seam integrity or missing stitches
    • Correct assembly of components
ADVANCED INSPECTION
  • Performed annually by fire department’s trained personnel or verified Independent Service Provider (ISP).
  • Ensemble elements that are “soiled” must be cleaned before inspection.
  • Findings of inspection must be documented.
  • Include all elements of routine inspection.
  • Perform required tests on garment elements:
    • Light evaluation test of liners.
    • Leakage evaluation.
COMPLETE LINER INSPECTION
  • Performed annually on garments in use for three years or longer by fire department’s trained personnel or verified ISP.
  • Liner must be separated to expose the hidden sides of the moisture barrier and thermal liner.
  • Perform required test on moisture barrier:
    • Water penetration barrier evaluation.
  • Liners that pass inspection must be sewn together after testing.
3. ROUTINE CLEANING
  • The fire fighter is responsible for initiating at the scene.
  • Separate ensembles and ensemble elements to avoid cross contamination.
  • Manufacturer’s cleaning instructions must be followed.
ADVANCED CLEANING
  • Performed at least annually by fire department’s trained personnel or verified ISP for ensemble and ensemble elements that are issued and used.
  • Performed at any time by fire department’s trained personnel or verified ISP for ensemble and ensemble elements that meet the fire department’s definition of “soiled”.
  • Conducted by machine, unless prohibited by the manufacturer.
  • Manufacturer’s cleaning instructions must be followed.
4. BASIC REPAIRS
  • Specific minor repairs may be performed by the fire department’s trained personnel, verified or non-verified ISP, or the original manufacturer.
  • Ensemble elements that are “soiled” must be cleaned before repair.
  • Repairs must be done in a manner that is compliant with NFPA 1971 and use “like materials” that are certified to be compliant with NFPA 1971.
ADVANCED REPAIRS
  • All repairs to moisture barriers must be performed by the original manufacturer or verified ISP.
  • Ensemble elements that are “soiled” must be cleaned before repair.
  • Repairs must be done in a manner that is compliant with NFPA 1971 and use “like materials” that are certified to be compliant with NFPA 1971.
5. STORAGE
  • Ensemble and ensemble element storage areas must be clean, dry, and well ventilated.
  • Ensemble and ensemble elements must not be exposed to direct sunlight or fluorescent light when not being worn.
  • Ensemble and ensemble elements must not be stored in public places.
6. RETIREMENT
  • Fire departments must develop specific criteria for removing ensemble and ensemble elements from service.
  • Ensemble and ensemble elements must be retired ten years from manufacturing date. The radiant reflective shell on proximity gear must be replaced at five years.
7. RECORD KEEPING
  • Fire departments must maintain records on all ensemble and ensemble elements that are utilized by the department.
  • Records include manufacturing detail, to whom the item is issued, advanced cleanings, advanced inspections, repairs, and dates of retirement and method of disposal.



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