Alarms to Go Off Earlier|for Firefighter Oxygen

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules requiring makers of firefighter respirators to set low-oxygen alarms to go off 5 percent earlier than before.
     The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health received a petition in 2003 from a member of the International Association of Fire Fighter requesting a change in the rules governing service-life indicators for self-contained breathing apparatuses.
     Those service-life indicators are called “end-of-service-time indicators” within the community of firefighters, and give an alarm when the respirators are running low on breathable air.
     The previous rule set the indicators to give an alarm when the indicator was set between 20 and 25 percent.
     The stakeholders who agreed with the firefighters association requested that Department of Health and Human Services eliminate the 20 percent limit, and held discussions with the agency in 2008.
     The recent action establishes that the low-air indicator must activate at a minimum setting of 25 percent.
     A purchaser of respirators may request that a manufacturer set the indicators at higher values, and can have the indicators modified.
     “Changes to the proposed rule text are made in response to public comment, to clarify our overall intent; to specify that the requirement for continuous alarming is intended for open-circuit, demand and pressure demand units only; and to require that manufacturers identify the indicator setting on each unit,” the department wrote.
     The rule becomes effective on Feb. 13.
     To learn more, click the document icon for this regulation and others.

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