U.S. Department of Homeland Security Issues First Standards for Personal Protective Equipment for First Responders

New Page 1

For Immediate ReleasePress OfficeContact: 202-282-8010February 26, 2004

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology division today adopted its first standards regarding personal protective equipment developed to protect first responders against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents.  These standards, which will assist state and local procurement officials and manufacturers, are intended to provide emergency personnel with the best available protective gear.

"Secretary Ridge and I are delighted to release the Department's standards for personal protective equipment for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents," said Dr. Charles McQueary, Under Secretary, Science and Technology.  "We know these guidelines will be helpful to state and local first responders as they use technology to protect themselves and our citizens from these potential threats."

Homeland Security is adopting these standards, developed in partnership with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  These guidelines, which have also been adopted by the Interagency Board for Equipment Standardization and Interoperability, include NIOSH standards for CBRN three main categories of respiratory protection equipment and five current NFPA standards for protective suits and clothing to be used in responding to chemical, biological and radiological attacks.

"President Bush, Secretary Ridge and I are committed to our nation's first responders and the communities they serve," said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response. "Developing these standards in equipment used by our first responders will enable them to better prepare our nation against natural and man-made disasters and protect them as they respond to any hazard."

Homeland Security's standards are designed to assist state and local officials in procurement decisions related to first responder equipment.  In addition, these guidelines will assist manufacturers by providing performance standards and test methods.  This provides the manufacturing community with minimum performance requirements for equipment, and the test methods to confirm that the required performance levels are achieved.

These standards reflect the continuing support of a multi-year program in Homeland Security's Science and Technology division, managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to develop chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear and explosive protective equipment standards.  This program, which transitioned from the Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness in 2003, continues to facilitate the development of performance standards and test methods for first responder protective and operational equipment.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology division serves as the primary research and development arm of the Department, utilizing our nation's scientific and technological resources to provide federal, state and local officials with the technology and capabilities to protect the homeland.