Myth: The future of many mountain rescue teams is under severe threat due to new European regulations stipulating that all life-Saving equipment, including Land Rovers, must be replaced every five years, having exceeded a new use-by date regardless of condition. Teams might not even be able to sell off old gear to offset replacement costs because of possible liability should it prove faulty.
(Evening Express, 9.1.95)
Response: This is not the case. The relevant Directive, on Personal Protective Equipment (89/686/EEC), does not require rescue teams to do this.
Although there is a provision in the Directive that obliges manufacturers to include information on expiry dates, or where appropriate the maximum number of uses or cleaning operations, this is true only of certain specialised items, such as breathing masks or fluorescent clothing that loses its effectiveness if washed repeatedly.
It does not apply to most of the equipment used by mountain rescue teams. In such cases it is up to the manufacturer to provide a realistic estimate of the useful working life of the product. In no way does the Directive apply to vehicles used by mountain rescue teams.
Directive 89/686/EEC, amended in 1993 (93/95/EEC and 93/68/EEC), requires that personal protective equipment is certified as meeting the harmonised standards by the application of a CE mark, with the last two digits of the year in which the mark was affixed. Directive 89/686/EEC fully enters into force on 1.6.95, while the transtional preiod for CE marks (Directive 93/68/EEC) ends on 31.12.96.
Representations have been made by manufacturers and others protesting that the inclusion of the date imposes costs with no discernible benefit. Consequently the relevant working groups are discussing plans to remove the requirement to include the date.