FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WFRV) Some fire departments in Wisconsin are changing what they use to extinguish fires and other departments may follow suit.
Some firefighting foams contain PFAS, which are man-made chemicals being linked to having toxic health and environmental effects.
The Fond du Lac Fire Department is extinguishing its use of foams with PFAS because of environmental concerns.
Garth Schumacher is a captain with the Fond du Lac Fire and Rescue and says, “The biggest issue is that PFAS is contaminating the water supplies. It’s contaminating the ground.”
They’re two major types of firefighting foams, class A and class B.
Class B foams typically contain PFAS, which fire departments in Wisconsin still use.
Captain Schumacher says, “Class B fires are rarer. You’d see them used in airplane crashes and departments that have a lot of airport firefighting. Fond du Lac has these class B foams, but they are used for car fires or gasoline spills if they’re significant enough.”
Class A foams generally don’t contain PFAS, which is fortunate, since fire departments commonly respond to class A fires.
Class A fires typically involve house fires.
Fluorinated class B foams contain PFAS-related chemicals, which the Environmental Protection Agency has linked to several health issues including cancer.
Schumacher says, “The health problems that are being recognized now are being linked to PFAS. So I think we want to do our part to limit as much as we can of our footprint in creating those hazards.”
Concerns about nature have the Appleton Fire Department rethinking their use of foams with PFAS.
Appleton Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Felauer says, “We want to be friends of the environment and that would be something we would definitely look at down the road in the near future.”
PFAS are not found in home fire extinguishers that use powder and carbon dioxide.
The state legislature has introduced Bill 323 that would limit the use of fire fighting foams that contain PFAS to emergency fire fighting situations.