National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Protective Ensemble Classes


NFPA Overview

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): World's leading advocate for fire prevention and authoritative source on public safety
    • NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards designed to reduce the possibility and minimize the adverse effects of fire and other hazards (including ionizing radiation) on quality of life
  • NFPA's CBRN protective ensemble consensus standards provide:
    • Information about individual elements of protective ensembles
      • Footwear & footwear covers
      • Garments (to cover upper and lower torso, head, arms, and legs)
      • Gloves
      • Manufacturer specified (make and model) CBRN respiratory protective equipment
    • Specific performance and testing requirements for individual protective elements and complete ensembles
  • NFPA certifications are only issued for complete ensembles
    • Individual protective elements are not considered certified unless used as part of a complete and certified ensemble

NFPA Protective Ensemble Classes

NFPA Protective Ensemble Class Level of Skin Protection Level of Respiratory Protection Notes Concerning Use
Class 1
(most protective)

See PPE Image Gallery - Level A equivalent
Protective ensemble totally encapsulates wearer and respiratory protective equipment Mandatory use of NIOSH-certified CBRN self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) Establishes minimum level of protection for first responders against:
  • Toxic vapors, liquids, and particulates during hazardous materials incidents
  • Specific chemical and biological terrorism agents in vapor, liquid-splash, and particulate environments during CBRN terrorism incidents
Class 2

See PPE Image Gallery - Level B equivalent
  Requires use of NIOSH-certified CBRN self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) For use in terrorism incidents involving vapor or liquid chemical or particulate hazards where concentrations are at or above levels immediately dangerous to life or health
Class 3

See PPE Image Gallery - Level C equivalent
  Requires use of NIOSH-certified CBRN air-purifying respirators (APRs) or NIOSH-certified CBRN powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) For use in terrorism incidents involving low levels of vapor or liquid chemical hazards where concentrations are below levels immediately dangerous to life or health
Class 4
(least protective)

See PPE Image Gallery - Level D equivalent
Ensembles not tested for protection against chemical vapor or liquid permeability, gas-tightness, liquid integrity Permits use of NIOSH-certified CBRN air-purifying respirators (APRs) or NIOSH-certified CBRN powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) For use in terrorism incidents involving biological or radiological particulate hazards only where the concentrations are below levels immediately dangerous to life or health

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NFPA Consensus Standards for CBRN Protective Ensembles

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References:
  1. ATTENTION EMERGENCY RESPONDERS: Guidance on Emergency Responder Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Response to CBRN Terrorism Incidents. (PDF - 281 KB) (NIOSH Publication No. 2008-132, June 2008. Page 5) (HHS/CDC/NIOSH, June 2008)
  2. 2008 Standardized Equipment List: Comments on AEL Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment Section (PDF - 1.25 MB) (The Interagency Board)