(Apr. 11) – The House Energy and Environment committee approved Rep. Tony Exum’s bipartisan bill to protect firefighters from the dangerous impacts of the manmade Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFA) which they use on a daily basis.
“As a former battalion chief, I saw not only how often we used this material during training but also the health damage it caused to our firefighters,” said Rep. Exum, D-Colorado Springs. “When we used this material, it would frequently contaminate our drinking water. It’s past-time we do something to protect our courageous firefighters and protect the health of people in our communities.”
PFA substances are used to battle high-heat fires. The EPA has deemed this material toxic as it stays in the body for two to seven years upon exposure. HB19-1279 would prohibit the use of PFA during firefighting training exercises and includes a fine for compliance failure. The money collected from these fines would go to the Local Firefighters Safety and Disease Prevention Fund.
Finally, it also created the Firefighters Foams and Personal Protection Equipment Act which prohibits the use of PFAs, requires companies to inform consumers if their equipment has been treated with this hazardous material, and requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) to conduct surveys to learn if any stations are using this material.
HB19-1279 passed with a bipartisan vote of 8-2 and now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.