The Missoula Technology and Development Center was asked
to put together a list of actions needed for Fire and Aviation Management
to meet new federal high visibility regulations published in November.
On November 24, 2008, a new Federal regulation (23 CFR
Part 634) went into effect mandating that workers whose duties place them
in the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway must be wearing high-visibility
safety apparel that meets the requirements of ANSI/ISEA 107, Class 2 or
The DOT/FHWA has recommended some changes to the rule,
including allowing the use of high-visibility apparel that meets ANSI/ISEA
207. This standard was developed specifically for first responders and
law enforcement personnel who must carry equipment, such as firearms,
on their belts. ANSI/ISEA 207 allows garments with less background material,
thus shorter vests with easier access to equipment will meet the standard.
DOT/FHWA has also proposed incorporating 23 CFR Part 634
into the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). This would
expand the requirement for high-visibility garments to anyone working
on any road open to public travel, not just Federal-aid highways.
Exemption for Firefighters:
On November 21, 2008, FHWA issued an Interim Final Rule
to address safety concerns raised by the firefighting community regarding
the particular high-visibility safety apparel that is required. This came
about because no materials meet the fluorescent requirements of ANSI/ISEA
107 or 207 and the flame resistance standards of NFPA 1971 (for structural
firefighting) or NFPA 1977 (for wildland firefighting).
The Interim Final Rule:
- Revises the definition of "worker" to exclude firefighters
and other emergency responders when they are exposed to flame, fire,
high heat, or hazardous materials.
- Exempts firefighters from the requirement to use high-visibility
safety apparel (as defined in this rule) when they are exposed to hazardous
conditions where the use of such apparel may increase the risk of injury
- Allows firefighters or other emergency responders to wear retroreflective
turnout gear that is specified and regulated by other organizations,
such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), when working
within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway and engaged in emergency
operations that directly expose them to flame, fire, heat, and/or hazardous
- Continues to require firefighters to wear high-visibility safety
apparel meeting the standards cited in the original rule when working
within the right-of-way, but not exposed to flame, high heat, or hazardous
The US Forest Service Office of Safety and Occupational
Health confirmed with FHWA that the exemption applies to all firefighters
when performing firefighting duties, including wildland firefighters wearing
garments that meet NFPA 1977. The Forest Service must still provide guidance
to its employees describing the circumstances under which high visibility
garments must be worn. The agency also wishes to evaluate other methods
for mitigating the hazards associated with working along a roadway.
Recommended Actions and Development Work:
- Policies/Procedures – Estimated Cost $15K:
Establish procedures, policies, and SOPs so that Fire and Aviation Management
(FAM) can provide guidance to the field on how to meet the requirements
of the new rule.
- DECISION POINT: Establish specific guidelines and provide guidance
to field for determining when high-visibility apparel meeting ANSI 107
(or eventually 207) is required and when wearing flame-resistant garments
for wildland firefighting is appropriate. The dynamic nature of fire
can make it difficult to determine whether workers are exposed. Employees
such as ground support and workers in fire camp will need to know how
to determine which type of garment is needed. (WO Leadership)
- Consider mitigating measures that could be used to decrease the exposure
of firefighters to traffic, such as road closures (where possible),
and alternative garment and accessory options. (Henderson, Sutton, MTDC)
- Consider whether policy changes are needed and make recommendations
for appropriate changes in manuals and handbooks. (Henderson, Sutton,
- Develop implementation strategy when mitigating measures have been
selected (Henderson, Sutton, MTDC):
i. If the selected option(s) includes manufacture or purchase
of new PPE items, develop a plan for manufacture, purchase or retrofit
ii. If selected option(s) includes signing, develop a plan for manufacture
or purchase of signs.
iii. Develop and implement training plans.
- Evaluate and/or develop equipment:
Phase 1 – Evaluate/Develop Garments or Accessories - Estimated
- Evaluate options for increasing the conspicuity of wildland firefighters:
i. The possibility of designing a new garment or accessory (MTDC)
ii. The possibility of redesigning existing wildland PPE (MTDC).
iii. Other methods for making firefighters more conspicuous, such
as lighting or strobes. (MTDC)
For an option to be acceptable it must increase conspicuity, without
hindering the safety or increasing hazards to wildland firefighters. (MTDC,
Henderson). An acceptable solution must:
- Ensure immediate access to emergency equipment such as fire shelters.
- Ensure firefighters are not placed at risk caused by thermal instability
of garment material, such as melting. Another emerging issue that must
be evaluated is the risk of burn injuries associated with the discharge
of stored thermal energy in some garment materials.
- Ensure garments do not cause additional hazards, such as entanglement
in chain saws or other powered equipment.
- Ensure garments do not subject firefighters to additional heat stress.
- Design and field test garment or accessory. (MTDC).
- Determine costs of various options. (Henderson, MTDC)
- DECISION POINT: A decision by WO leadership will be required to select
the appropriate option.
Phase 2 - Implement Selected Garment or Accessory Option:
Estimated Cost $16K
- Develop drawings and specifications for selected option. (MTDC)
- Develop inspection criteria, instructions for refurbishment, and
retirement guidelines. (MTDC)
- Identify how, when, and where to store or carry equipment. (Henderson,
- Develop tech transfer information and training to share with field.
- Implementation of tech transfer information. (WO Leadership)
- Work with GSA as needed. QA/QC (MTDC)
Phase 3 - Signing – Estimated cost $28K
- Determine SOPs for use of sign by FAM on roadways. (Sutton, Sheehy)
- Develop training curriculum. (Sheehy)
- Develop purchasing plan and field guidance. (Henderson)
- Develop materials to facilitate training and sharing of guidance
with field. (MTDC)
Total Cost for all phases $100K
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