The NFPA 1851 is a standard that specifies the minimum selection, care, and maintenance required for necessary firefighting protective ensembles and the individual elements. These elements include garments, helmets, gloves, footwear, and interface components. This standard was established to reduce the safety risks and potential health risks that come from poorly maintained ensembles that may be contaminated or damaged. This standard establishes basic requirements for the selection, inspection, cleaning, decontamination, repair, storage, and retirement of the ensembles. Listed below is an individual description of each of the basic requirements for the NFPA 1851.


Organizations are required to preform a risk assessment to ensure that the selected product meets the necessary level of protection. The assessment may include the hazards that could be encountered by the firefighters based on the types of duties preformed, the frequency of use of the ensemble, the geographic location and climate, and more. If an organization were to skip this step, they may be putting their firefighters at risk.


An inspection must occur after the ensemble elements have been cleaned, decontaminated, and repaired. This step maintains the integrity of the gear and reduces firefighter’s exposure to carcinogens.

Cleaning & Decontamination

This section of the standard makes it clear that the cleaning and decontamination of the ensembles is a responsibility of the organization, not the individual. The wearer must simply evaluate the ensemble to ensure it is thoroughly cleaned after each use.


All repairs to the ensemble should be preformed by the original manufacturer, a verified and trained ISP, or a trained member of the organization. This ensures that the ensembles are repaired correctly so that they will maintain integrity and work as they should.


While in storage, the ensembles should not be exposed to or stored in direct sunlight. The elements must also be clean and dry before being placed into storage. They also may not be stored in airtight containers unless they are new and unissued.


A firefighting ensemble must be retired within no more than 10 years from the date of manufacturing. They must also be retired if they are worn or damaged to the point that it is not possible or cost effective to preform repairs.

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