Firefighters in New York and nationwide are sounding the alarm. They say proposed safety and health standards by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could suffocate already fragile fire department staffing and budgets.

What You Need To Know

  • On Feb. 5, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed new rules to update existing regulations for the safety and health of firefighters and other emergency responders
  • The original comment period was going to end May 6. OSHA has now extended that to June 21.
  • Firefighters say the plan doesn't work for every fire department and the communities they serve

They’re saying these were written without their input and they are one-size-fits-all rules for fire departments that operate very differently in support of very different communities.

The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FAFSNY) said their number one thing firefighters stress is safety. They want to come home at night – but they say they need a seat at the table before implementing these proposed emergency response standards for all.

“If you force so many regulations that are so costly or unachievable and fire departments have to go out of business, then you’ve essentially tried to make a profession safer by putting them out of business. So, you know, there’s gotta be some common sense logic, middle ground where we can improve firefighter health and safety but also allow them to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible," said John D’Alessandro, secretary for FASNY.

FASNY said New York had about 120,000 volunteer firefighters statewide in 2000. Currently that has dwindled down to 75,000. They said this OSHA proposal would both impact career and volunteer firefighters. The 600-plus pages of proposed regulations can be found here, as well as the link for public comment.

FASNY said they just want more time to review the full document and prepare a response and they want an in person public hearing after that extension. The deadline for comment is June 21.