A survey of nearly 1,700 firefighters shows broad support for the National Fire Protection Association’s safety standards, even while many said their departments are not meeting some NFPA requirements.
The survey, which drew 1,696 responses, was conducted as a joint project by the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA) and the Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association (FEMSA). Over half of the respondents identified themselves as officers.
The survey results were reported in early October during the annual meetings of the two organizations in San Antonio, Texas.
More than 70 percent of those responding to the survey said they always check before preparing a bid specification to determine whether the apparatus or equipment they are planning to purchase is covered by an NFPA standard. And 75 percent said they would not consider purchasing products that do not meet applicable NFPA standards.
The survey results do not hold out hope of a quick recovery for manufacturers from the lingering effects of the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. More than 1,000 firefighters, asked how they are dealing with the rapidly increasing cost of fire apparatus, said they are purchasing less often.
A number of survey questions probed the issue of apparatus and equipment costs in relation to NFPA standards, which are cited as one reason for increasing prices. Almost 60 percent of firefighters and officers responding to the survey said they would purchase NFPA-compliant products even if they were more expensive than non-compliant ones.
Nearly 60 percent said their departments require compliance with the NFPA 1901 apparatus standard, while 37 percent said they purchase NFPA-compliant apparatus components that apply to their procedures.
Regarding personal protective equipment, two survey questions addressed the NFPA 1851 Standard on Structural Firefighting Protective Ensembles. More than 1,400 respondents said they were aware that the standard specifies that PPE ensembles be retired after 10 years of service. But when asked whether they were meeting that requirement, half said no.
As for the kind of equipment being purchased in light of increasing emergency medical calls, 51 percent of the respondents said they had not changed the types of apparatus they are buying. However, more than one-third said they were combining more EMS equipment with pumpers.
Asked about their overall approach to purchasing new fire apparatus, 46 percent said they are looking for more flexible units that are able to perform a greater variety of tasks.
Pumpers continue to be the leading apparatus purchase by a wide margin. More than 900 respondents said their departments anticipated buying pumpers during the next three years. Rescue/command vehicles were a distant second at 366, followed by wildland units (262) and aerials (259).
Firefighters responding to the survey represented primarily rural and suburban areas. Almost 80 percent said their departments had less than 50 firefighters, and 64 percent said they were all-volunteer.
FAMA is soliciting responses for a new research survey related to economic conditions. The survey is available at www.fama.org in the “Take Our Surveys” area. Individual responses are kept confidential, and the results will be shared based on a summation of the total survey.