North Central Texas Council of Governments Recommends Regional Adoption of Code Requiring Life-Saving Breathing Air Replenishment System for Firefighters
“A game-changer for firefighter safety … And Texas is leading the way.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is recommending its member cities adopt Appendix L of the International Fire Code, which would mandate the installation of firefighter air replenishment systems (FARS) in construction of new high-rise buildings, big-box style horizontal structures, and other large buildings in their jurisdictions.
FARS are a standpipe for air, the latest technology in building-installed firefighter life safety systems. FARS deliver a safe, instant supply of air replenishment to firefighters so they can survive in the toxic, smoky environment of a structure fire. Just as water standpipes replaced water buckets as a delivery system, FARS replaces the “bottle brigade” of firefighters who must hand-carry replacement air bottles up dozens of flights of stairs, or deep into structures, to provide air replenishment to fire crews. With FARS, firefighters can refill their air bottles in 2 minutes or less under full respiration at fill stations located throughout a building — a much faster, safer, more reliable way to resupply air and avoid the poisonous effects of smoke.
More than 25 cities in Texas now require FARS, including Midland, Plano, and Frisco. In May of 2021, members of the Frisco Fire Department successfully used a FARS to refill their air bottles during a working fire in a 12-story residential high-rise. There were no injuries.
The NCTCOG amendments are available for any jurisdiction to adopt throughout the county, andnumerous cities throughout the state are expected to adopt FARS in this code cycle. Nationwide, FARS are now required in cities in 20 states.
“Breathing air is critical for firefighting operations,” said NCTCOG in their reason statement supporting the recommendation. “Historically, fire departments have supplied air bottles by manually transporting air bottles up stairways or across long distances in a building, which is an extraordinarily intensive process and takes firefighters away from their primary mission of rescue and firefighting. The FARS technology in Appendix L exists to address this issue using in-building air supply systems. Many jurisdictions in North Texas and across the country have already adopted this Appendix and are enforcing and installing these systems to improve life safety of firefighters and enhance their firefighting capabilities in an emergency incident, which is one of the reasons for recommending this Appendix for adoption — to ensure regional consistency as well as to improve mutual emergency aid among jurisdictions in North Texas. “
NCTCOG’s Regional Codes Coordinating Committee and its five advisory boards conducted multiple meetings over the past few months to review the latest editions of model codes and develop regional amendments. Their review and recommendations are endorsed by NCTCOG’s Executive Board, which is encouraging that member cities adopt the FARS code and other model construction codes as expeditiously as their local code adoption process will allow. Their recommendations on the International Fire Code can be found at https://www.nctcog.org/nctcg/media/Environment-and-Development/Documents/Codes/2021-IFC-Amendments-Final_1.pdf FARS are referenced on pages 35 and 36.
“FARS are a game-changer for firefighter safety,” says fire service air management expert Capt. Mike Gagliano (Seattle FD, ret.), who co-wrote the definitive textbook on the subject, Air Management for the Fire Service, and serves on the board of the Firefighter Air Coalition, a firefighter safety advocacy group. “As buildings become larger and more complex, delivery of air by hand becomes more problematic, and takes valuable personnel away from fire attack and search and rescue. FARS solves that problem. It’s an important tool that visionary fire chiefs and progressive city management across the country are recognizing as a way to manage growth and make a dangerous job safer. And Texas is leading the way.”
About the North Central Texas Council of Governments
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) was established to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development. It serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered around the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth, and has more than 230 member governments including 16 counties, numerous cities, school districts, and special districts. Since 1967, NCTCOG has actively promoted the standardization of model construction codes in an effort to simplify the construction process, advance the safety of building systems, promote common code interpretation, facilitate the mobility of contractors, and reduce training and construction costs.
About the Firefighter Air Coalition
The Firefighter Air Coalition (FAC) is an advocacy group dedicated to promoting firefighter safety through the use of air management best practices, advanced fireground research, and the adoption of codes requiring firefighter air replenishment systems (FARS). Comprised by leaders from the fire service, industry, and government, the FAC is the nation’s leading advocate for the full implementation of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1404, “The Rule of Air Management,” and the adoption and implementation of International Fire Code Appendix L, which outlines the requirements for FARS.
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