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NFPA 1851


NFPA 1851 establishes criteria for setting up a program to reduce potential safety and health risks related to poorly maintained, contaminated, or damaged protective ensembles, and ensemble elements manufactured to NFPA 1971.

NFPA 1851

What you should know about NFPA 1851?

Under the NFPA 1851, fire departments must develop written standard operating procedures that describe the components of the program and define the roles and responsibilities of the organization and its members. Specifically, NFPA 1851 establishes the criteria you need to follow when setting up a program to reduce potential safety and health risks related to poorly maintained, contaminated or damaged protective ensembles and ensemble elements. 

Program components covered by the standard are:

  • Selection
  • Inspection
  • Cleaning and decontamination
  • Repair
  • Storage
  • Retirement
  • Record Keeping


  • Provides documentation on the steps taken by the organization to ensure PPE in service continues to provide sufficient protection
  • Provides detailed information by individual if an injury or LODD occurs



Prior to starting the selection process perform a risk assessment

  • Facilitates comparative evaluation
  • Ensures PPE is suitable for the hazards that are most likely to be encountered by your department

Before purchasing, make sure all ensemble elements properly interface to avoid possible injury or death


Routine Inspection

During a routine inspection look for:

  • Soiling
  • Contamination
  • Physical damage such as:
    • Rips, tears, and cuts
    • Damaged or missing hardware and closure systems
    • Thermal damage
  • Damaged or missing reflective trim
  • Loss of seam integrity and broken, or missing, stitches
  • Correct assembly and size compatibility of shell, liner, and the drag rescue device (DRD)

Routine Inspection

Advanced Inspection

All separable layers, including the moisture barrier, of the garments shall be individually inspected for:

  • Soiling
  • Contamination
  • Physical damage to all layers
  • Loss of moisture barrier integrity
  • Evaluation of fit and coat/trouser overlap
  • Loss of seam, and material integrity
  • Loss of wristlet elasticity, stretching, runs, cuts, or burn holes
  • Reflective trim integrity
  • Label integrity and legibility
  • Hook and loop functionality
  • Liner attachment systems
  • Closure system functionality
  • Accessories for compliance with 4.2.3 (NFPA 1851)
  • Correct assembly and size compatibility of shell, liner, and DRD

Step 2: Advanced Inspection

Routine Cleaning

  • The end users shall be responsible for the routine cleaning of their issued gear
  • Instructions on cleaning and drying are provided on the manufacturer’s label and user information

Step 4: Routine Cleaning

Advanced Cleaning

  • Performed by the element manufacturer, a manufacturer trained organization, a verified organization, or a verified ISP
  • Gear that is soiled, shall receive advanced cleaning prior to reuse

Step 5: Advanced Cleaning


All repairs shall be performed by the original manufacturer, a verified ISP who has received training, or a member of the organization who has received training.

Step 6: Basic Repair


Shall be:

  • Clean and dry before storage
  • Coats and pants should be hung to limit the damage caused by creasing, and shall not be folded
  • Storage areas should be clean, dry, and well ventilated

Shall not be:

  • Stored in living quarters or with personal belongings
  • Stored in contact with contaminates
  • Stored in direct sunlight while not being worn
  • Stored in airtight containers unless they are new and unissued
  • Stored at temperatures below -25°F or above 180°F
  • Stored where it could be damaged



  • Structural and proximity fire fighting ensembles and ensemble elements shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1 or 10.2.2, no more than 10 years from the date of manufacturing
  • In all cases, the radiant reflective outer shell shall be replaced at a max of 5 years
  • Shall be retired if:
    • Worn or damaged to beyond reasonable repair
    • Not compliant to NFPA standards when manufactured
    • Contaminated, defective, or damaged



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