Tech Rescue Standards: NFPA 1006 and 1670

As an instructor and curriculum writer I have delved deeply into the NFPA Standards, especially NFPA 1006 and 1670.  However, not everyone else has the time, energy, or attention span to truly “get into the weeds” and read the standards for themselves.  This often results in individuals being confused about what the NFPA 1006 and 1670 standards are and are not.  In this blog post, I am going to attempt to succinctly summarize what the two standards mean for first responders!

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NFPA develops consensus-based standards that cover virtually every aspect of emergency response.  There are now over 300 NFPA standards, and the technical committees that write the standards are comprised of individuals from many different types of organizations.  NFPA standards are NOT just for fire departments.

Anyone can create a free account on www.nfpa.org and gain free view-only access to all of their standards.  You may also become a paying member of the organization and/or purchase printed or electronic copies of the standards licensed to you for professional use.

NFPA 1006

NFPA 1006 is the Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications. NFPA 1006 establishes the minimum job performance requirements (JPRs), or competencies, for individuals seeking a specific level of training or certification in the various technical rescue disciplines. As of the 2017 edition, there are nineteen disciplines of technical rescue recognized by NFPA 1006 (and 1670). The standard recognizes three levels of training for each discipline – Awareness, Operations, and Technician.

I use NFPA 1006 to develop the Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC curriculum.  Since I issue certificates to individuals that complete my classes, naturally it makes sense that I refer to the standard that applies to individuals when writing my curriculum.

Some people refer to themselves as being “NFPA 1006 certified.”  This is really a misnomer.  NFPA 1006 is just the standard that identifies the competencies an individual should have.  Any organization can develop curriculum and train individuals based on the competencies identified in NFPA 1006. Individuals identifying themselves as “NFPA 1006 certified” most likely mean they took written and practical testing accredited by a certification granting body such as The ProBoard or IFSAC.

NFPA 1670

NFPA 1670 is the Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents. NFPA 1670 applies to an organization’s functional capability when responding to technical search and rescue incidents. The keyword in the previous sentence is, “organization.” The standard even specifically states, “It is not the intent of this document to be applied to individuals and their associated skills and/or qualifications” (Chapter 1.1.3).

This standard requires organizations perform a hazard analysis and risk assessment of their jurisdiction to determine what level of response they will provide. Just like NFPA 1006, this standard breaks down the level of response capabilities into Awareness, Operations, and Technician levels. An agency may decide to respond at the Awareness level to one discipline, but Operations or Technician to another based on the hazards that exist in their jurisdiction and their team’s capabilities.

NFPA 1670 provides further guidance to emergency services organizations regarding how they provide technical rescue services.  If you are interested, check out our Rescue Company Management online class which teaches you about many of these other aspects of NFPA 1670.

Important Note!

NFPA 1006 and 1670 do not tell rescuers how  to perform a technical rescue.  They just tell us what we should be able to do.  Nowhere in the standards does it state you must always use G-rated equipment, 1/2″ diameter rope, or rig everything with a 15:1 safety factor.  All of these types of decisions are left up to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), which is the organization where you work or volunteer.  If you ever hear an instructor say “NFPA says we have to do it this way” then you should probably think about retaking that class with someone else!

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

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