State suing companies that make AFFF firefighting foam

Local News

Fire team at ROC International Airport reacts to lawsuit, and possible harmful impact of PFAS-based AFFF

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC-TV) New York State Attorney General Letitia James is suing multiple companies for what she says are their alleged role in making chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and people.

In the lawsuit, it says Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, or AFFF, a product used by fire departments and the military to expedite combating flames, might have ingredients linked to some cancers. AFFF and its accompanying ingredients are also said to be a threat natural resources. 

Paul Miller, the President of the Rochester Airport Firefighter’s Association, says PFAS (Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances) are chemicals in AFFF and it’s a concern. While PFAS-based AFFF is highly effective at fighting things like fuel fires, he says there are still many unknowns on its impact.

“This only caught any kind of attention about two, two and a half year ago through the Department of Defense,” says Miller.

Miller adds water samples at military bases with AFFF came back showing contamination. Miller says some places are trying new product alternatives but, “It’s taking twice as much of the agent to accomplish the same task,” he says.

“We’ve been following it for about two years now, and changing how we’re going to deal with interacting with that foam product,” says Kevin Bardeen, Fire Chief of the Rochester Airport Fire Department.

Bardeen says research into AFFF is still on-going, but they’re taking precautions now.

“(Our fire team is) wearing Tyvek suits, protective boots, respirators, full-face masks. Basically, we’ll just be using foam until the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) comes out with a suitable alternative,” he says.

Bardeen says there are new products being tested. By October 2021, he says the FAA should have that new foam delivered, “But then they’ll have to give us time to convert over to it,” he says.

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