NFPA Examines Ambulance Standards

In early February, the National Fire Protection Association began reviewing comments on its proposed ambulance standards.

"We received 1,785 comments. Several hundred, however, were copies addressing one or two issues," explains Larry Stewart, NFPA fire service specialist who is heading the project.

One of the most controversial suggestions is that all ambulances contain a vehicle data recorder or black box that would track speed, acceleration and deceleration, braking events, seat belt use and other metrics of operation.

"We're hearing overwhelmingly people don't want those," Stewart says.

Another proposal drawing ire is one requiring the installation of a governor that would limit speed to 60 mph. Others are objecting to requiring ambulances to have a tire pressure monitoring system. Stewart said while some are costly, another that attaches to the valve stems is much cheaper.

Other recommendations proposed by NFPA include requiring proper securing of equipment in the patient compartments, reflective markings on the rear of the ambulance, and interior designs that contain no sharp edges.

The NFPA will vote on actions, and a consensus document will be established and presented, Stewart explains. "The public will get a second bite," he says, adding that the process of establishing recommendations takes several years.

The committee will meet again late next fall to review the second round of proposals.

The final recommendations are set to be released by 2012.