NFPA Launches New Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Public Safety Operations

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released its first unmanned robotics guidance for first responders and others. NFPA 2400®, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations was developed by representatives from public safety departments with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including the fire service, law enforcement, and emergency medical services.

NFPA 2400 is an all-encompassing standard that applies to all public safety departments that operate sUAS, providing much-needed guidance as drone usage rises. It also gives departments the information and knowledge needed to develop a comprehensive sUAS program based on an entity’s operation type while identifying potential risks associated with deployment. NFPA 2400 helps first responders understand definitions and terms by breaking down aerial integration into three main elements:

  1. sUAS organizational deployment and considerations – addresses mission objectives; program development; purchase specification; risk assessment; and multiple aircraft operations;
  2. professional qualifications – provides minimum job performance requirements (JPRs) of a remote pilot in command (RPIC) and visual observer. Essential job tasks are listed so that curriculum can be developed and RPIC/visual observers can be trained in accordance with public safety and emergency responder requirements. NFPA 2400 underscores the need for an sUAS coordinator, stressing the importance of knowing airspace requirements; weather conditions; crew readiness benchmarks; resource needs; incident command systems; regulatory requirements; and communication strategies; and
  3. maintenance program responsibilities – emphasizes record keeping; discrepancy reporting; routine cleaning; upkeep due to operational applications and the operating environment; and storage requirements so that program coordinators can run an effective sUAS program.

“NFPA 2400 provides an ANSI-accredited roadmap for public safety entities to create a drone program that is based on the most current industry knowledge,” Michael Wixted, the staff liaison to NFPA 2400 said. “The standard is designed to help public safety officials define criteria, understand program elements, train staff accordingly, and plan for various scenarios long before a drone program launches or any technology takes flight.”

The request for a small unmanned aircraft system standard for public safety operations began in August 2016. Forty-six professionals from fire service organizations such as IAFC, IAFF, California State Firefighters’ Association, FDNY, and county fire and rescue departments joined forces with representatives from sheriff’s departments, IAB, DHS, ALEA, police foundations, metro units, and others from the Department of Transportation, private ambulance companies, NIST, manufacturing, aviation and consultancies.

For more information, please visit: www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

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