A firefighter taking off her gear. Wikipedia Commons license. Author: 세종소방
31 Jan 2023

The IAFF makes legal demands to remove toxic components in firefighter turnout gear


The International Association of Firefighters claims firefighters clothing contain harmful, cancer causing chemicals and has hired several lawforms to demand change and economic compensation for firefighters with cancer. 

Smoke, soot and other byproducts of fire, especially fires with synthetic fuels, are well known to cause cancer among firefighters when repeatedly exposed to them. What is perhaps less known, and more unexpected, is that the firefighting gear itself can contain harmful substances.  

As CTIF.org has reported before, some firefighters´clothing and gear has been scientifically proven to contain harmful, potentially cancer causing substances, and this has been publically known since at least 2018, and under investigation since before then. 

The IAFF claims some chemical producing companies have known about it for even longer, perhaps even for several decades, and kept quiet about it, thereby harming many firefighters. 


Three law firms engaged for possible class action lawsuit

According to an article on Firehouse.com,  "the firefighters´ union announced that it had retained three prominent “toxic tort law” firms to demand changes to the personal protective gear firefighters use, and to explore compensation for cancer-ridden firefighters and their families".   

The IAFF made the announcement on a Monday press conference at the Caesars Forum convention center in Las Vegas, where the union represents around 850 firefighters in Clark County.

The IAFF´s main concern is a chemical called polyfluoroalkyl substances - also known as PFAS - which are designed to protect against heat, and also against toxic substances produced in a fire. In recent years, these chemical shave been known to cause cancer in the human body. 


"Forever chemicals" that can´t be washed away and spreads in your home

The PFAS chemicals are also known as "forever chemicals" because they are absorbed through the skin, cannot allegedly not be washed away and can also be spread at home after a call, rubbing off on whatever surface the firefighter touches. 

According to union president Edward Kelly, tens of thousands of firefighters may have been already affected:

“The very gear designed to keep us safe is laden with these carcinogens...the gear we depend on to keep us safe is killing us”, he said.

According to Edward Kelly, the gear U.S. firefighters use has been in circulation since the late 1980s and early 1990s, despite some chemical corporations knowing these substances were toxic. 

Although the union were not specific about their planned legal action, they said a class-action lawsuit is a possibility. 

The video below also goes into more details about these issues. 

read more on Firehouse.com

Photo Credit: (Cover Photo above) 
A firefighter taking off her gear. Wikipedia Commons License. 
한국어: 2013년 9월 세종소방 소방공무원 신경화
Date September 2013