Home Interviews THMG062 – Interview with NFPA Chairman Greg Noll

THMG062 – Interview with NFPA Chairman Greg Noll


In this episode, we interview Greg Noll, the chairman of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). We discuss the history and future of the NFPA, NFPA 472, OSHA, and many other topics.

Complete Show Notes

1:45 Introduction to Greg Noll

  • Greg is a third-generation firefighter who grew up two doors down from his dad’s fire station in Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Been in the business for a little over 46 years and has worn a lot of different hats
  • Retired from the United States Air Force
  • Has also done a lot of work in the emergency services community
  • Since 1989, he and business partner Mike Hildebrand have managed Hildebrand & Noll Associates, a two-man shop focused on emergency planning and response consulting – a lot of their clients are in the oil and chemical industries
  • Chairman of the NFPA for the last 10 years

8:30 History of NFPA 472

  • Hazardous materials response teams were beginning to grow in numbers in the mid-1980s
  • There was no OSHA in the 1980s or any kind of NFPA standards – there also weren’t very many training materials available
  • There was a lot of grassroots sharing of information going on throughout the country, though
  • In 1985 and 1986, two letters were submitted to the NFPA – one from the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) and one from the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) – Greg was the head of the hazmat division of the NFPA at that time
  • Letters said that we needed some kind of standards for planning, training, and response to hazmat incidents – NFPA formed the committee shortly thereafter in 1986
  • Committee felt there was a need for a planning document, and training document, and a procedures document – 471, 472, and 473 all came down the pipeline at the same time
  • NFPA 471 is the procedures document
  • NFPA 472 is the training document
  • NFPA 473 is the training document specifically focused on EMS
  • Committee did nothing in the planning area, since the EPA came out with the orange book and the green book around that time – this became the foundation for local government planning expectations

14:00 NFPA 472 and OSHA CFR 1910.120

  • 1910.120 is the law, while 472 is the industry standard
  • The NFPA has developed two types of standards documents – technical standards and recommended practices
  • The operative word is “shall” for standards and “should” for recommendations
  • OSHA 1910.120 was originally written by two men who had attended NFPA meetings before OSHA was even developed – Paragraph Q in 1910.120 is based on early drafts of NFPA 472

16:45 Target Audience of NFPA 472

  • None of these documents are solely for fire responders – instead, they’re for emergency responders to hazmat incidents
  • Designed for all of the players involved in hazmat response – first responders, technicians, people in industry, etc.
  • NFPA 473 continues to evolve and includes new mission-specific competencies
  • Emergency responders are considered to be operations and higher – this can be complicated, though, since 1910.120 was written in 1989-1990
  • NFPA documents are now being updated for the fifth time, while OSHA 1910.120 rules read the same today as they did back in 1989
  • 1910.120 covers four different audiences – emergency response, waste cleanup operations (post-emergency response), workers at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities, and workers in environmental cleanup scenarios
  • For three of those four audiences (other than emergency response), things haven’t changed much beyond the basic technologies – this is why OSHA hasn’t been updated in a while

25:25 The Future and What’s New in NFPA 472

  • NFPA 1072 is also worth mentioning – this was specifically requested by the stakeholders in the training community
  • Greg and NFPA view 472 as the parent and 1072 as the child because they’re so tightlyonertwined
  • There are a few new JPRs (job performance requirements) coming down the pipeline
  • Overall, they’re providing more options for responders based on the unique hazards and risks they’re facing
  • Containers
    • You have to be able to control a leak from a bulk or non-bulk pressure container
    • You also have to be able to control a leak from a bulk liquid container
  • Keep in mind that these deal with skills – you should already have the knowledge competencies
  • People should always be trained to perform the specific tasks their AHJ requires them to do
  • Operations-level guys should always know how to help technicians and be ready to lend a hand
  • We’ve seen tremendous growth in the variety of monitoring and detection equipment since 9/11 – the NFPA has done their best to address these technologies and how they play out in the real world

40:00 Two New NFPA Standards

  • NFPA 475
    • Recommended practice document designed for individuals who manage hazmat emergency response programs
    • Parallels the special operations program management course at the National Fire Academy
    • Should be out within the first half of 2017
  • Greg isn’t involved with NFPA 1475

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