FEMA, NFPA strike equipment interoperability discussion

Sunday, December 1, 2002

WASHINGTON - A group of federal officials, security and fire trade associations and other organizations with interests in the fire equipment realm will meet sometime this month to continue an industry dialogue on how different types of fire equipment work together in emergency situations.

The meeting, which will be hosted by the National Fire Protection Association, is a follow-up to a meeting held in early October, said Julie Reynolds, an NFPA spokesperson.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Administration initiated the informal discussion, according to Marko Bourne, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fire Administration, part of FEMA, to address concerns that fire equipment, particularly fire fighting and other rescue apparatus, are not universally compatible. Concerns stem from Sept. 11, 2002, where equipment from different communities to serve at the sites of the terrorist attacks New York and the Pentagon were not well suited to work with that of other jurisdictions.

"The initial discussion went very well and there were a lot of positive responses to the idea of working to find solutions to interoperabilities of all kinds of rescue and fire equipment," Bourne said.

As part of the first meeting, attended by members of the NFPA, the Central Station Alarm Association, Underwriters Laboratories and the Fire Suppression Systems Associations, among other groups, discussions ranged from equipment such as self-contained breathing apparatus to equipment kept on fire trucks to rescue tools, as opposed to warning or alarm devices, Bourne said.

"That doesn't preclude a discussion on that topic but we didn't really identify anything in that area in the first meeting," he said.