NFPA 3000: A provisional standard commanding a call to action by first responders

NFPA 3000 isn't a tactical document or a policies and procedures manual; it's a framework to develop programs that integrate planning, response and recovery to active shooter hostile events


By J. Scott Quirarte and Heather R. Cotter

I have the honor to serve on the Cross Functional Emergency Preparedness and Response (ACT-AAA) Technical Committee that developed NFPA 3000 as the International Public Safety Association’s principal representative. As a battalion chief with Ventura County, California Fire Department, I can assure you that NFPA 3000 was not developed in a bubble or by a specific first responder discipline. It was developed by the largest technical committee in the history of NFPA.

NFPA 3000 was developed by an incredibly diverse technical committee of 46 members with representatives from law enforcement, the fire service, emergency medical services, hospitals, emergency management, private security, private businesses, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice and several others.

The NFPA 3000 Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response Program was created with insight from fire, EMS and law enforcement officials. (Photo/Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
The NFPA 3000 Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response Program was created with insight from fire, EMS and law enforcement officials. (Photo/Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

NFPA 3000 explained

NFPA 3000 is not a tactical document. It is not a policies and procedures manual. It is a framework for communities to develop programs that integrate the planning, response and recovery to active shooter hostile events. It is designed to educate first responders about what you need to do, but not how you need to do it. The “how to” is determined by each jurisdiction.

As an example, NFPA 3000 states that fire and EMS responders shall “have knowledge of warm zone care and rescue concepts.” It does not define these concepts. It does not dictate how the rescue concepts will be implemented. There are multiple different methods for conducting warm zone care and rescue. First responder rescue operations vary by jurisdiction, region, state, nationally and globally. There is no one correct way to accomplish the task. Each jurisdiction must develop plans and procedures that will work for their community. 

The NFPA 3000 standard is based on four main principles:

  1. Unified command.
  2. Integrated response.
  3. Planned recovery.
  4. Whole community.

It is an inclusive standard designed to address all phases of an active shooter/hostile event including preparedness, response and recovery. As stated in the NFPA 3000 fact sheet, the purpose of the standard is to “identify the minimum program elements needed to organize, manage and sustain an active shooter and/or hostile event program and to reduce or eliminate the risk, effects and impact on an organization or community affected by these events.”

It is important to point out that the NFPA 3000 is a provisional standard. As a provisional standard, it goes immediately back into the revision cycle. It is the second provisional standard in NFPA’s 122-year history. Creating NFPA 3000 as a provisional standard allowed the ACT-AAA Technical Committee to publish the standard and roll it out to the first responder community.

A call to action to implement NFPA 3000

Now that the NFPA 3000 standard is released, there is a call to action to every law enforcement agency, fire department, EMS service provider and allied emergency responder.

  1. Use NFPA 3000 to assess readiness. Read the NFPA 3000 standard and use it as a resource to evaluate your jurisdiction’s response program. For jurisdictions that do not have a program, reading and understanding NFPA 3000 will help determine what steps are needed to create one. For jurisdictions that have an established program, reading and understanding NFPA 3000 will allow them to identify program strong points, and more importantly, recognize program weaknesses. Active shooter and hostile events can happen in any community and any jurisdiction. The time to prepare is before they occur.
  2. NFPA 3000 proves that first responders need to work together. It is unfortunate that it took an increase in acts of violence for first responders to realize how important it is that we work together. It is no longer acceptable for first responders to work in our own response discipline bubble. Several jurisdictions have identified the need for integrated response and they are stepping up together to meet this need. Working together yields better planned and more efficient response and recovery to all emergencies. This ultimately leads to the ability to save more lives and lessen suffering of those we swore to protect.
  3. NFPA 3000 is open for public comment. Since NFPA 3000 is released as a provisional standard, it is now under review. NFPA 3000 is open for public comment until Aug. 1, 2018. It is a great standard, but it is only the beginning. The more public comments submitted, the stronger the standard will be when it is revised and released. First responders can submit feedback here.

The NFPA 3000 standard is part of a paradigm shift in first responder culture. First responders need to truly integrate their response, and the best way to start is to become better informed. Taking the time to review NFPA 3000, and related integrated response policies and publications will equate to a more prepared community, less loss of life and less suffering.

About the authors
J. Scott Quirarte is a battalion chief with the Ventura County (CA) Fire Department. He has been with the department 30 years. He spent 17 years as a member of Special Operations as a shift captain for the HazMat Team.

Quirarte is the project lead for the Ventura County Interagency Active Shooter Response Workgroup and was also the lead instructor of program training for over 3000 law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers and EMS personnel. He is also a founding member of Ventura County Stop the Bleed program.

Quirarte is a Board Member of the International Public Safety Association and a member of the IPSA's RTF and TEMS committees. While serving as Vice-Chair of the IPSA's RTF committee, he served as a principal in the development of the IPSA RTF Best Practices Guide. Battalion Chief Quirarte is also the IPSA representative on the NFPA 3000 Technical Committee.

Heather R. Cotter is the executive director and founder of the International Public Safety Association. It is the IPSA’s vision for a stronger, more integrated public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all public safety incidents. Given this, Cotter formed the IPSA so that every public safety official and every public safety advocate is eligible to become a member and help advance the IPSA mission.

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