This standard shall identify the minimum levels of competence required by responders to emergencies involving hazardous materials/weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The key to achieving a given level of competence required in 1.1.1 is training and testing. NFPA 472 is a performance-based standard, and therefore training hour requirements are not given. Instead, NFPA 472 deals with the objectives and abilities that a responder must attain in order to be considered competent. The performance-based approach was chosen by committee members because hazardous materials emergency response is a constantly changing field of knowledge, skills, and control methods, based on continually developing technology, chemicals, and needs.
Competencies can identify the skills, knowledge, and abilities expected for the specific hazardous materials responder levels. NFPA 472 can be used for designing training and evaluation programs, certifying responders, measuring and critiquing on-the-job performance, defining hiring practices, and setting organizational policies, procedures, and goals.
Competencies for the technician with a specialty designation have been included since the 1997 edition of NFPA 472 and now include the following four specialty areas of expertise:
1. Tank cars (Chapter 12)
2. Cargo tanks (Chapter 13)
3. Intermodal tanks (Chapter 14)
4. Marine tank vessels (Chapter 15)
Three areas of specialty designation competencies are new to the 2013 edition of NFPA 472:
1. Technician with a Flammable Liquids Bulk Storage Specialty (Chapter 16)
2. Technician with a Flammable Gases Bulk Storage Specialty (Chapter 17)
3. Technician with a Radioactive Material Specialty (Chapter 18)
The inclusion of these specialty levels does not limit the technician level in the performance of those tasks that have always been assigned at that level. Instead, the Technical Committee on Hazardous Materials Response Personnel has added specific language to explain that the capabilities and operations performed by the technician level can still be performed by technicians in hazardous materials incidents involving tank cars, cargo tanks, intermodal tanks, and marine tank vessels.
Since the 1997 edition, NFPA 472 has also included two other levels of competencies:
1. Hazardous materials officer (Chapter 10)
2. Hazardous materials safety officer (Chapter 11) The hazardous materials officer could be the "officer-in-charge" of the hazardous materials team, the hazardous materials group supervisor, or a hazardous materials technical specialist.
The hazardous materials officer can be a part of the entry team or can closely supervise the operation from the warm zone. At some larger incidents, more than one hazardous materials officer could be needed for each separate team working at the incident.
A response team can be composed of members at several different levels. For example, a team might have personnel at the operations level and at the technician level, or it might be made up of personnel at specialist employee A and B levels. The levels of competencies in NFPA 472 apply to individuals rather than to response teams.
Outside the United States, hazardous materials might be called dangerous goods (see Annex E). Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are known by many different abbreviations and acronyms, including CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive), B-NICE (biological, nuclear, incendiary, chemical, explosive), COBRA (chemical, ordinance, biological, radiological agents), and NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical).
This standard shall apply to any individual or member of any organization who responds to hazardous materials/WMD incidents.
This standard shall cover the competencies for awareness level personnel, operations level responders, hazardous materials technicians, incident commanders, hazardous materials officers, hazardous materials safety officers, and other specialist employees.