Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to footer



OSHA recently published significant changes to OHSA 1910.156 which has the potential to dramatically change the face of the US and NYS Fire Service. The proposed changes are in a 90-day (ends May 6th) comment period and require immediate action by your fire service organization. The 608-page document published by OSHA contains data and compelling stories as to why the changes are needed. While we 100% agree with firefighter safety and everything that can be done to improve it, we feel the financial and time-consuming changes in the standard will have negative impacts on the fire service organizations and will actually decrease the already struggling number of firefighters and may force many to leave the service. We also question the reliability of some of the data and theories used to produce this proposal. There are immediate actions that all fire service organizations could take that would have immediate impacts on firefighter safety and be of little or no expense to the AHJ. Several of these areas have been untouched by the proposed standard while costly and time-consuming requirements have made their way into the proposed regulation. 22 NFPA standards are now included in the proposed OSHA standard by reference. This means that any place the NVFA standard says “shall” or “must” the AHJ would be responsible for including them. There are another 14 NFPA standards that are included in part. The bottom line is these changes would have major implications for every AHJ, Officer, and firefighter in NYS. Our concern here is not unfunded mandates and possible fines, our biggest concern is the liability this will now place on organizations that have a firefighter death or injury. This proposed standard leaves the doors wide open for litigation and settlements at a level we have never seen.

AFDSNY hosted a webinar on Saturday morning 2/22/24 that explained the process and shed some light on the changes. We have made a copy of that webinar recording available for you to watch.  

Do you need help or ideas drafting your own public comment letter? 2nd VP Denniston has posted his and made it available to view. 

Denniston Proposed OSHA Public Comment Letter

To Submit A Comment visit: Federal Register : Emergency Response Standard 

(There will be a big green button reading “Submit A Formal Comment” at the top of the page)

Looking for a list of Freqently Asked Questions? Click Here

UPDATE (03-28-24: OSHA is extending the period for submitting comments by 45 days (ends JUNE 21st) to allow stakeholders interested in the NPRM on Emergency Response additional time to review the NPRM and collect information and data necessary for comment.
Source: Federal Register

We are asking that every AHJ in NYS assign someone to start reading the proposed standard and that every AHJ file a comment with specific information on the financial burden and hardships that would create for your municipality. This week alone, I have had conversations with representatives from USSBA, FEMA, PESH, state and local fire service organizations, and both NYS State and Federal elected officials. ALL of these have expressed concerns that this would have major impacts on how fire service is delivered here in NYS. The clock is ticking and we only have until May 6th to have our voices heard. The importance of immediate action of every AHJ can simply not be overstated. Both your boards and legal counsel should be included in your conversations.

        The document can be found here: Emergency Response Standard; Proposed Rule | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (

        The heart of the proposed regulation is here: Section 1910.156, Emergency Response (

        Additional US Department of Labor resources: Emergency Response Rulemaking | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (

        Informational webinar by OSHA Training Institute (1.5 hr.):        Informational webinar by NVFC (1.0 hr.): Proposed OSHA Emergency Response Standard Update and What It Means for Volunteer Fire Departments

        Informational webinar by NVFC: Q&A pdf document

        Additional information at:  Home – Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York (

        Template of Public Comment Format: Word Document for Download


    To View a copy of the Initial Webinar Recording:  Click Here
            Initial Coffee with Commissions Presentation: Presentation
    April 4th Presentation: Click Here to View
    April 10th Presentation: Click Here to View


What Does This Mean For Us? Highlighter Project: 

To understand the impact that this proposed standard would have on your organization, we recommend that each organization download the heart of the new standard.
Here is the link erp-draft-reg.pdf (
Print the document out and grab at least three different highlighters.
Use one color ( use green or no color at all) to highlight the parts of this standard that you feel your organization is already doing. One example is if you are already using spotters each time you back a vehicle, use one color that will show you are already doing this.  
Use the second color to highlight areas that you are currently not doing, but could do fairly easily with a reasonable amount of time or expense to your organization. Say for example you currently do not have different classes of physicals for your members but feel you could implement a schedule of physicals for each member depending on what they did for your organization. Classes of members might include interior, exterior, driver, firepolice, EMS, and officer.
Use the third color (orange is a good one for this) to highlight areas that you currently are not doing but with moderate time or expense, you feel that you could and should probably be doing.  An example of this category might be awareness level training for all members for any type of call you may be called on (swift water rescue, high angle rescue, confined space rescue, electric substation awareness, etc)
Now use the last color (Red or pink is a good one) to highlight things that you feel would be cost-prohibitive or very difficult for your organization to implement. An example of this may be establishing a physical fitness program geared to each class of member, overseen by someone certified to conduct such a program.
From this exercise, start to establish some different lists with bullet points by priority. Make one list of items from your red group and provide facts and figures as to why this would be difficult for you to meet the standard. By using the example above this might look like – The XYZ Fire District currently has no workout facility to do this. Cost estimates are $150,000 for the equipment and a certified trainer would cost us $67,000 a year. There is no gym in our community that we could send our members to and the closest gym costs $240 a year times our 50 members, this would cost us $12000 a year. We have an annual budget of $179,000 per year.
The second list could be your orange category. Your bullet point might look like this – We would need to implement awareness-level training in 7 categories that we currently haven’t covered. We have reached out to Johnny Firefighter Training LLC and they have given us a quote of $26,000 to get all of our members trained up to the awareness level standard.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The above of purely an example and made-up numbers. Each organization will have different lists depending on what you are already doing, the resources available, and the hazards in your community. This is not a one-size-fits-all standard, so only you can determine what is doable and what is a pain point.  
Now use these lists to build your comment to the proposed standard. Remember that DATA, FACTS, and EXAMPLES are key. We need EVERY organization to do this self-assessment and file a comment before May 5th.
Thank you for your help and concerns.