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SEL Number: 01SW-04-SPFD
Title: Device, Personal Flotation, Surface Water Operations, NFPA 1952

Last Updated: 7/8/2022 12:55:35 PM

Previous SEL Number: 01SW-04-SPFD

Description: Personal flotation device (PFD) for surface water operations. PFDs must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, Type III or Type V, and certified as compliant with NFPA 1952. Includes common accessories such as attached pealess whistle and signaling devices/lights.
(Replaces Item 01WA-04-SPFD)

ImportantFeatures: The personal flotation device (PFD) is worn with an ensemble (wet suit or dry suit) that includes garment, booties, gloves, helmet, and optional swimming fins. The recommended personal flotation device should be a Type III or V Coast Guard approved personal flotation device that may include corrosion-resistant hardware for attaching a lifeline that is capable of withstanding swift water forces and affording a quick release from the lifeline. This hardware enables the rescuer to be secured to a rope and self-release from the rope if an immediate escape is required. There are numerous categories for PFDs including ground support and rescuer positions. Rescuer PFDs should afford enough flotation for the rescuer and a victim and be able to sustain operations in aerated water. This is usually around 20-25 pounds of flotation, depending upon size of rescuer. They should also posses multiple adjustment straps to secure the PFD to the rescuer to prevent the PFD from dislodging from the rescuer. Some will also contain leg attachment straps for use in extreme water conditions.

Operating Considerations: Surface water operations are defined as "Technical rescue activities requiring water functional capabilities involving surface water, swift water, tidal water, surf, and ice that do not require underwater respiratory equipment."

The principal danger during swift water rescues is drowning. This means that all persons involved in swift water rescue operations should wear an approved personal floatation device, or a suit (such as an ice suit) designed to provide adequate flotation. Other protective clothing and equipment must mitigate drowning exposure hazards. For example, garments should not have loose straps or openings that can create entanglement hazards with floating debris. Regular helmets cannot be worn since they can fill with water and restrict movement. In addition, flood water temperatures can be quite low (near freezing). Exposure to cold water for extended periods of time results in reduced hand and foot function as the body's circulatory system limits blood flow to the extremities. Overexposure to these conditions can result in hypothermia. Lastly, flood water can carry chemical and sewage contamination capable of causing acute or chronic health effects.

Training Requirements: Core Training: NFPA 2500, NFPA 1006.
Initial Training: Extensive (>2 days)
Sustainment Training: Extensive (>2 days)

Mandatory Standards:

Applicable Standards and References:

  • Law Enforcement: Dive Team
  • Law Enforcement: Maritime
  • Law Enforcement: Preventive Rad/Nuc Detection
  • Law Enforcement: SWAT/Tactical Team