Proposed Bipartisan Bill Aimed at Developing PFAS-Free Firefighter Gear

July 31, 2023
Legislation has support from firefighter personal protective equipment manufacturer and firefighter association.

A bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers has proposed a bill to accelerate the development of firefighter gear that’s free of per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) through research, development and testing of PFAS-free materials.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., along with Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Sam Graves, R-Mo., Tom Kean, Jr., R-N.J., Dina Titus, D-Nev., Anthony D’Esposito, R-N.Y., Glenn Ivey, D-Md., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced the bill on July 20.

The primary objective of the bill is to develop PFAS-free turnout gear – the personal protective layers worn by firefighters – that includes low-maintenance properties and safety enhancements.

This includes high contamination resistance, greater ease of cleaning, visible warning indicators to alert firefighters to hazardous exposures or the need for decontamination and consideration of body composition in turnout gear design. It also calls for firefighter training on proper use of the gear and to involve the firefighter industry in the design of the materials.

The PFAS Alternatives Act would authorize $25 million annually for each of fiscal years 2024 through 2028 to support the development of new materials, and an additional $2 million annually to support guidance and training.

PFAS has been linked to cancer, the leading cause of firefighter death, according to a news release from Rep. Dingell.

“Firefighters’ jobs are already dangerous enough without worrying about the long-term health risks of being exposed to dangerous PFAS in their turnout gear,” said Dingell. “The PFAS Alternatives Act will remove this unnecessary occupational hazard and help protect firefighters as they work every day to protect us.”

The PFAS Alternatives Act has endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters and Globe Manufacturing Company, a New Hampshire-based turnout gear manufacturer.

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