United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Health Physics Questions and Answers - Question 407

Question 407:

(a) Does Part 20 apply to emergency response personnel such as city fire fighters?

(b) If Part 20 does apply, would the radiation dose received by the workers be considered to be an occupational dose or a public dose?


(a) No. As stated in 10 CFR 20.1001, "Purpose," Part 20 applies to activities conducted under licenses issued by the NRC. Emergency response activities such as fire fighting by employees of a city fire department are not conducted under a license issued by the NRC (even when the fire being fought is in a facility of an NRC licensee). Furthermore, as stated in 10 CFR 21.1001, nothing in Part 20 shall be construed as limiting actions to protect health and safety. Thus, Part 20 does not apply to emergency response activities and workers such as fire fighting by employees of a city fire department.

For NRC licensees, it is the Commission's intent that the regulations be observed to the extent practicable during emergencies, but that conformance with the regulations should not hinder any actions that are necessary to protect public health and safety such as lifesaving or maintaining confinement of radioactive materials (56 FR 23365). Also, for nuclear power reactor licensees, a different part of the regulations, 10 CFR Part 50, includes a requirement, in 10 CFR 50.47 (b) (11), that the offsite emergency response plans must include means for controlling radiological exposure of emergency workers in an emergency.

(Reference: 10 CFR 20.1001)

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, October 07, 2015