For Brandon Hausbeck and his fellow firefighters, danger lurks in the heat of every blaze battled. In many cases, the threat for them begins the moment they suit up in firefighting gear built with chemicals now known to be toxic.
“Firefighters so far haven’t really had any choice,” said Hausbeck, a training and safety officer with the Saginaw Fire Department. “Our guys know what they’re wearing. They have to try to block it out from their heads.”
An $80 million program proposed by Congress this week could help them do more than ignore the hazard; it could help them remove it.
The initiative would fund a national campaign to replace the turnout gear and firefighting foam that carries the toxic chemical group known as PFAS (pronounced colloquially as “p-foss” by those experienced in the issue), valuable to the industry because of its water-repellant nature.