NFPA 1006, 2021 Updates

Earlier this week, the 2021 update to NFPA 1006 Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications was released. I have been tracking the changes coming for quite some time and have been tweaking my curriculum accordingly. Here are some of my thoughts on some of the changes.

Rope Rescue Operations is a pre-requisite for…

If you remember, the 2017 update did away with the “General Requirements” chapter and moved most of those job performance requirements (JPRs) to the Rope Rescue Awareness and Operations chapters. Naturally, Rope Rescue Operations then became a pre-requisite for many of the other disciplines.

In the 2021 update, Rope Rescue Operations was removed as a pre-requisite for many of the major disciplines. It is still required for certain disciplines that require a lot of rope skills, such as Tower Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, and Swiftwater Rescue. However, it was removed from many others such as Structural Collapse Rescue Technician, which was surprising to me and something I do not totally agree with.

Ascending and descending rope is now technician level

The 2021 update has moved the skills of ascending and descending rope to the technician level. This also includes being able to self-rescue from a jammed or malfunctioning descent control device. I think this was a good move to make. Operations level personnel are still required to get on rope while being lowered and raised by their teammates, but most of the operations level skills now are boots-on-the-ground rigging skills. The technician level includes all of the more challenging on-rope skills and advanced rigging systems such as horizontal rope rescue systems.

Vehicle Rescue has been changed, AGAIN!

In the 2013 edition, vehicle rescue was still combined with machinery rescue. In 2017, vehicle and machinery rescue were split into two separate disciplines. Vehicle rescues involving passenger vehicles were considered operations level and rescues involving heavy vehicles were technician level.

In the 2021 update, the committee has separated vehicle rescue into two different disciplines. We now have Common Passenger Vehicle Rescue and Heavy Vehicle Rescue, each with their own set of awareness, operations, and technician level JPRs. The rough break down is that if the vehicle is resting on all four-wheels or as it is intended to be used, it is operations level. If the vehicle is any other position it is technician level.

I like the way the new standard breaks down vehicle rescue into two different disciplines. Unfortunately, some places still have not finished updating their curriculum to meet the 2017 revision, and this 2021 update will likely cause even more confusion at the local level.

There were obviously other changes made to the standard, but these were the three biggest updates that I noticed. Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC will be using the updated standard in all our programs immediately. Contact us to discuss setting up training for your agency.

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

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