PFAS and Portable Fuel Container Safety Legislation Moving in the Senate
November 19, 2019
Three pieces of legislation supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council were reported favorably out of committee this month. On November 6, the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act (S. 2353), which was introduced on July 31 by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), was approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The PFAS Act directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop best practices, training, and educational programs to reduce, limit, and prevent firefighters and other emergency responders from being exposed to polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS), a known carcinogen.
On November 13, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation favorably reported the Guaranteeing Equipment Safety for Firefighters Act (S. 2525) and the Portable Fuel Container Safety Act (S. 1640). S. 1640 was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and requires the addition of flame mitigation devices to consumer-grade portable fuel containers. The House version of this bill passed the full House on September 17.
S. 2525, which was introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to study firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) to examine the prevalence of PFAS, the extent to which PFAS is released into the environment as PPE degrades, and the risk of exposure that firefighters face based on the first two factors. The bill also directs NIST to establish a grant program to research safe alternatives to PFAS in PPE. An amendment to the bill offered by Senator Corey Gardner (R-CO), who is also an original cosponsor of S. 2525, was adopted by the committee before final passage.