Protecting our Firefighters and our Water

Bills advance to prevent PFAS contamination and to provide additional benefits for firefighters

DENVER, CO — The House Finance Committee today passed Representative Tony Exum’s legislation to protect communities and firefighters from PFAS contamination by a vote of 11-0. The committee also passed Representatives Lisa Cutter and Marc Snyder’s bill to provide health benefits for firefighters who suffer cardiac complications in response to an emergency by a vote of 10-1.  

“PFAS is a highly dangerous chemical that puts our firefighters and communities at risk,” said Rep. Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs. “Our firefighters deserve better. This bill will help us identify all the facilities that use PFAS substances and ensure that they are tested, collected and disposed of properly.” 

Training and testing with AFFF fire fighting foam is one of the leading causes of PFAS contamination and exposure. HB20-1119 sets out clear guidelines for when AFFF fire fighting foam (PFAS-based firefighting foam) can be tested, requiring that all AFFF foam be collected and properly disposed of after testing so that it doesn’t enter drinking water sources. The bill also requires the state to certify and register every facility that possesses PFAS fire fighting substances and to create standards for the disposal and capture of these substances when they are used so that they do not contaminate groundwater. 

SB20-057 would protect wildland firefighters by providing benefits to them for circulatory malfunctions in connection with a stressful or strenuous activity that took place while responding to an emergency as well as provide benefits for certain kinds of cancers. Currently, only some employers are required to provide insurance benefits to firefighters who suffer from heart conditions that are directly related to the strenuous activities of their job. This bill expands benefits to employees of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control who respond to wildfires in our state. 

“Firefighters deserve our support, and this bill is one way to show that we care about their health and safety as much as they care about ours,” said Rep. Cutter, D-Jefferson County. “Suffering through a cardiac emergency or cancer is already an ordeal that nobody should have to go through, and with this bill, we hope to provide some relief and critical health benefits to our heroes who get sick while serving our communities.”

“We have an obligation to care for those who have protected us,” said Rep. Snyder, D-Manitou Springs. “I’m pleased to see this bill move forward to provide the health benefits our firefighters have earned.”

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