The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will update an existing standard to expand safety and health protections for emergency responders, including firefighters, emergency medical service providers and technical search and rescue workers. OSHA will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to modernize the agency's "Fire Brigades" standard as its protections for a narrow set of industrial and private firefighters have become outdated.

Currently, OSHA regulations protect emergency responders' safety and health in a patchwork of decades-old, hazard-specific standards. Not designed as comprehensive emergency response standards, they fail to address the full range of job hazards faced by today's emergency responders. The new standard updates safety and health protections in line with national consensus standards for a broad range of workers exposed to hazards that arise during and after fires and other emergencies.

The proposed rule requires employers to obtain baseline medical screening for all emergency responders and ensure continued medical surveillance for responders when they are exposed to the byproducts of fires and explosions more than 15 times annually. The proposal also includes a variety of other requirements to better protect both workers whose primary job is emergency response and those whose emergency response duties are in addition to their regular daily work duties.