Firehouse

JAN 2017

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5 Things to Know about NFPA 1221 Although lesser known than other standards, NFPA 1221 impacts every call T he National Fi re P rotection Association (NFPA) should need little introduction to firefighters. Founded in 1896, with a focus on sprinkler technology and electrical safety, the body has since broadened its scope to include numerous items of concern. Many, if not most, firefighters are familiar with NFPA standards such as 1901, which covers fire apparatus; 1001, which covers firefighter professional standards; and 1971, which relates to structural and proximity gear. But with more than 300 codes and stan- dards from which to choose, it stands to reason that certain documents may not be universally familiar. Communications standard One such set of regulations is NFPA 1221: Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Commu- nications Systems. While lesser known than many standards, 1221 has a direct impact on every department and on every call. Contained within the pages are best practices on everything from computer- aided dispatch (CAD) to staffing to facility design. Also included are sections covering communication and signal wiring, opera- tions, telephones, testing, records, data security and public alerting systems. As is the case with all such docu- ments, there is ongoing revision designed to keep pace with developing trends. The most recent edition, released in 2016, addresses a number of pertinent issues. Based on this content, here are five things that all firefighters need to know. 1. Call-handling times NFPA 1221 establishes call-handling times in that, "90 percent of emergency alarm processing shall be completed within 64 seconds, and 95 percent of alarm processing shall be completed within 106 seconds." Extensions are granted for reports involving Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) protocols, for- eign languages, the deaf, hazardous mate- rials, technical rescue, criminal activity that might compromise responder safety, text messages and "calls that require deter- mining the location of the alarm due to insufficient information." While identified as being special circumstances, this list encompasses a significant portion of the total events reported to 9-1-1, to the point that they might be considered to be the rule rather than the exception. Consider that while fewer than a dozen states have mandatory EMD, the remainder experience volun- tary utilization rates of up to 90 percent. This suggests that pre-arrival protocols are a fairly common practice. Addition- ally, according to the Federal Commu- nications Commission, about 70 percent of all emergency reports now come from wireless devices. Due to the state of cellu- lar telephony, the majority of these do not provide the necessary data to immediately pinpoint an alarm. 2. Staffing NFPA 1221 speaks directly to staffing. Included are the requirements that at least two people are on duty at all times, and that sufficient staffing is maintained in order to meet processing time provisions. Further, it addresses personnel assignments dur- ing critical operations such as maydays, in that, "When requested by the incident com- mander, a telecommunicator shall be dedi- cated to the incident and relieved of other duties within the communications center." 3. Data security plans NFPA 1221 requires dispatch centers to have a data security plan that "shall encompass people, technology and opera- tions" and cover all devices. While Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) security has historically taken the brick-and-mortar approach of locked doors and restricted access, the movement to more Internet- based communication protocols and con- nectivity now mandates the inclusion of cyber hazards. Last October, a teenager was arrested for triggering a denial of service attack that affected several 9-1-1 centers. It was launched simply by users clicking on a link in a tweet, and demon- strated the fragility of our current envi- ronment. Such exposure will only worsen when the networks that carry emergency calls also gain intelligence. 4. Community concordance In Section 8, regulations are set forth regarding the ability to directly dial out- side lines from multiple line telephone systems (MLTS) without the need for an access code. These switches are typically provided to private customers, such as hotels and corporate offices, and managed FIRE DISPATCH By Barry Furey BARRY FUREY, a Firehouse ® contributing editor, provides consulting and training services in emergency communications. He is the former director of the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center in North Carolina. During his 45-year public safety career, he has managed 9-1-1 centers and served as a volunteer fire officer in three other states. In 2005, Furey received a life membership in the Association of Public-safety Communications Officials (APCO) International for his continued work in emergency communications. "When requested by the incident commander, a telecommunicator shall be dedicated to the incident and relieved of other duties within the communications center." 66 l Firehouse l January 2017

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