The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) supported bill S. 231, the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 400 to 22 on December 1. This bill unanimously passed the Senate in July 2021. It now goes to the President’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.
The PFAS Act requires the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the United States Fire Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, to:
- Develop and publish guidance for firefighters and other emergency response personnel on training, education programs, and best practices relating to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (commonly referred to as PFAS)
- Design a curriculum to:
- reduce and eliminate exposure to PFAS from firefighting foam and personal protective equipment
- prevent the release of PFAS from firefighting foam into the environment
- educate firefighters and other emergency response personnel on foams and non-foam alternatives, personal protective equipment, and other firefighting tools and equipment that do not contain PFAS
The PFAS Act also creates an online public repository on tools and best practices for firefighters and other emergency response personnel to reduce the release of and exposure to PFAS.
NVFC chair Steve Hirsch praised the passage of this legislation saying, “Enactment of this important legislation will lead to improved health and safety outcomes for fire, EMS, and rescue personnel. We thank Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) for their leadership on this important legislation.”
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