Senators Shaheen, Gardner Introduce the Guaranteeing Equipment Safety for Firefighters Act

On September 19, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced S. 2525, the Guaranteeing Equipment Safety for Firefighters Act of 2019. The legislation directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to study firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) to examine 1) the prevalence and concentration of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), 2) the extent to which PFAS is released into the environment over time as PPE degrades, and 3) the risk of exposure that firefighters face based on the first two factors. PFAS is a known carcinogen that is a component in certain firefighting foams, as well as in PPE.

The bill also directs NIST to establish a grant program to research safe alternatives to PFAS in PPE. Eligible grantees include state and local fire departments, institutions of higher education, private corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Applications must be partnerships between two or more eligible entities.

“I’d like to thank Senators Shaheen and Gardner for their leadership in introducing this legislation,” said National Volunteer Fire Council Chair Steve Hirsch. “We need to be certain that PPE are protecting firefighters without causing unintended negative health consequences.”