The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Building & Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) released a report earlier this year concerning the effects of a thermal environment on the electronic equipment used by fire fighters. Research conducted so far has evaluated the performance of stand-alone PASS alarms, batteries, and hand-held oxygen sensors. Initial results on the PASS alarms indicate that these devices fail or become barely audible at temperatures as low as 300o F. This research could have a profound effect on the manufacture and testing of PASS alarms as required by NFPA 1982 – Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems.
Currently the BFRL is conducting research on integrated PASS alarms to determine if they react in a similar fashion to the stand-alone models. The IAFF Division of Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine will continue to monitor this research and work with the NFPA and equipment manufacturers to ensure that fire fighter equipment is manufactured and tested to withstand the demands placed upon it in the fire environment.