Frequently Asked Questions

These questions are compiled from questions to the CPF staff and conversations with CPF members. The intention is to provide sources for local presidents and their officers to answer the most frequently asked questions. Where possible, answers are provided as sources and citations of state and federal statute and regulation, nationally and internationally recognized standards and authorities.

If your question is not on this list, or if you need more information, please contact the CPF via e-mail at or phone (916) 921-9111.

PLEASE NOTE: California Professional Firefighters makes no attempt to give any legal advice or direction. An attorney should be consulted for legal advice.

What is the procedure for renewing or recertifying my EMT certificate or Paramedic License?

The Emergency Medical Services Authority provides the information on their website.

What are the 201 rights that I hear about?

Section 1797.201 of the Health and Safety Code states: "Upon the request of a city or fire district that contracted for or provided, as of June 1, 1980, prehospital emergency medical services, a county shall enter into a written agreement with the city or fire district regarding the provision of prehospital emergency medical services for that city or fire district. Until such time that an agreement is reached, prehospital emergency medical services shall be continued at not less than the existing level, and the administration of prehospital EMS by cities and fire districts presently providing such services shall be retained by those cities and fire districts, except the level of prehospital EMS may be reduced where the city council, or the governing body of a fire district, pursuant to a public hearing, determines that the reduction is necessary."

Hence, fire departments who have provided a level of EMS service since June 1, 1980 can continue to provide that same level of service until such time the fire department enters into a formal agreement with the county of a defined level of service.
My fire chief asked me to gather information so we can expand our level of EMS service. What do you have that will help in this area?

The International Association of Fire Fighters' Fire & EMS Operations/GIS Department is available to provide comprehensive information on fire departments and fire-based EMS and assists in improving the working conditions of IAFF members. The Department addresses the concerns of local affiliates on various components of fire departments and EMS system operations, including staffing, deployment, transportation, equipment, communications, record keeping, public education, injury prevention and quality assurance.
What are the Cal/OSHA regulations that pertain to EMS?

As with all employers, the fire department is required to have a safety officer (someone in charge of safety for the department). That is part of the required Illness and Injury Prevention Program (Title 8, 3203).

NFPA 1521, Standard for Fire Department Safety Officer addresses fire department specific responsibilities of the safety officer. Due to copyright laws, the CPF cannot provide copies of NFPA standards. Click here to view the codes and standards from NFPA's web site. NFPA standards that fire department EMS personnel should be familiar with are:

NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program

NFPA 1581, Standard on Fire Department Infection Control Program

The fire department is also expected to comply with the Respiratory Protection Standard (Title 8 5144) as it pertains to respiratory protection used as EMS personal protective equipment (i.e. tuberculosis isolation masks).

There are also more detailed concerns regarding bloodborne pathogens and tuberculosis. See below for links to those sites.

As with all work environments, EMS has common issues dealing with lifting, walking, use of tools etc. ALL of those miscellaneous workplace safety issues should be addressed in the fire department's Illness and Injury Prevention Program.
What are the requirements for preventing exposures to bloodborne pathogens?
Cal/OSHA regulations require very specific work practice controls and personal protective equipment for reducing the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Those requirements can be found in California Code of Regulations, Title 8 5190 Bloodborne Pathogens

I have a member who had an exposure to a bloodborne pathogen. What should be done to prevent this member from contracting a fatal disease?

The Centers for Disease Control is the recognized authority on communicable disease and disease prevention. They have published guidelines that should be implemented by fire departments to assure the correct preventative treatments are readily available.

Updated U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for the Management of Occupational Exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and Recommendations for Postexposure Prophylaxis will help in understanding what preventative measures should be taken after an exposure.

Centers for Disease Control's Management of Occupational Blood Exposures will answer the questions of what to do immediately after an exposure to blood or blood products.

What is the requirement for testing members for tuberculosis? How often should fire department personnel be screened for tuberculosis?

Cal/OSHA regulation, Title 8, section 5199 is the standard when working with patients who have, or are suspected of having an Airborne Transmissible Disease (ATD). The requirements for protecting and screening for TB are in this standard.

This standard requires annual TB tests and mandated medical follow-up if the test indicates positive for TB. Additionally, the employer is also required to provide vaccinations for a variety of ATDs, including mumps, measles and rubella, as well as tetanus and annual influenza vaccine.

The full text of the ATD standard can be found here: 

Additional information is available from NIOSH regarding TB respirators - Protect Yourself from TB.

I have heard some things about Hepatitis C. Could you provide information about Hepatitis C and what it means to me as a firefighter?

Hepatitis C is a bloodborne communicable disease. The International Association of Fire Fighters has put together an excellent presentation on Hepatitis C and the threat to fire fighters and EMS personnel.

What is the latest information on AIDS/HIV?

The Centers for Disease control maintains a wide resource list of information on AIDS/HIV. Frequently Asked Questions on HIV/AIDS is updated regularly. Most common questions are answered and many rumors are addressed.