Delegates at the IAFF 55th Convention voted overwhelmingly in favor of resolutions to protect members from toxic substances in personal protective equipment (PPE) and to end sponsorships from manufacturers that use these substances.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of some 4,000 chemicals used in virtually all bunker gear inner liners to make them waterproof, have been linked to cancer and other illnesses among fire fighters.
Resolution 28, approved by delegates by a vote of 1,536 to 10, calls on the IAFF to no longer accept sponsorships from the chemical industry, textile manufacturers or PPE manufacturers that use toxic chemicals in PPE.
Resolution 31, approved by delegates by a vote of 1,472 to 4, calls on the IAFF to actively oppose the use of PFAS in turnout gear and to seek independent testing of PPE currently available to determine levels of PFAS and the ability of the chemicals to penetrate skin.
While it is known that PFAS is contained in turnout gear, and that these dangerous substances have been detected in blood, it remains unclear how it enters the human body. The IAFF is currently supporting three ongoing studies: exploring PFAS levels in dust in fire stations, PFAS levels in fire fighters’ blood, and the levels and nature of PFAS in various types of turnout gear.