Everywhere, USA (November 24, 2008) -- A new provision from the Federal Highway Administration goes into effect today requiring firefighters and EMS personnel to wear flourescent safety vests when operating at emergency scenes along nationally funded roadways.
The vests must meet the Performance Class II or III requirements of the American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSI/ISEA) 107-2004 publication. ANSI requires that vests be fluorescent yellow-green, orange-red, or red background material with 360 degree retroflective visibility.
A provision was recently added to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control that exempted Firefighters from wearing vests, who were directly engaged in fire suppression as the vest material could ignite or melt if exposed to flame.
A full range of vests are available online at NYFireStore.com
Although the FHWA rule applies only to responses on federal aid highways, most fire administrators agree that firefighters and EMS personnel responding to any roadside incident wear MUTCD-approved safety vests.
While there is no federal funding set aside specifically to help local agencies purchase safety vests, my personal request is that local fraternal groups such as the Lions, Jaycees and Shriners consider taking the initiative to help local fire-rescue agencies outfit their members with this vitally important safety equipment.
photo courtesy NYFireStore.com