Firefighters have long used self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to protect against the inhalation of hazardous contaminants and chemicals. While law enforcement officials routinely enter occupancies and encounter situations that present comparable health risks, certified SCBA protection hasn’t been as well established for the law enforcement community.
With those health and safety concerns in mind - and a commitment to serving the needs of responders – NFPA has been working to develop SCBA standards that meet the law enforcement community’s SCBA needs.
Most recently, a new project request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) prompted the Technical Committee on Tactical and Technical Operations Respiratory Protection Equipment* to begin developing a standard for combination unit respirators, which allow first responders to switch from supplied air respirators to powered air-purifying respirators once satisfactory air quality has been determined. The committee met at NFPA last week to begin drafting the new document (NFPA 1987, Standard on Combination Unit Respirator Systems for Tactical and Technical Operations), which will specify the certification, labeling, design, performance and testing requirements for such respirators.
This effort builds upon the Technical Committee’s development of NFPA 1986, Standard on Respiratory Protection Equipment for Technical and Tactical Operations, which is scheduled to be issued this fall. While NFPA 1986 is comparable to the fire service SCBA standard (NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for Emergency Services) in many respects, it also features safety warnings, indicators, displays and alerts that are visible or audible only to the wearer during tactical operations and terrorist incident response. These features are necessary for law enforcement. While SCBA for the fire service makes a range of sounds and can feature flashing lights, this can prove problematic for tactical operations responders, law enforcement responders, hazmat teams and personnel who work in confined spaces.
To learn more about how these SCBA standards for the law enforcement community are reflective of NFPA’s ongoing efforts to meet the needs of all first responders, check out our online fire service resources.
*- The Technical Committee on Tactical and Technical Operations Respiratory Protection Equipment includes the FBI; end-user representatives from the Interagency Board (the Los Angeles Police Department and sheriff’s departments); National Bomb Squad Commanders Advisory Board; U.S. Department of Defense; fire department hazmat teams and the U.S. Marine Corps.