(February 19, 2019) The Virginia legislature has overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill supported by firefighters, environmental groups, and industry aimed at responsible use of Class B firefighting foams.
The “Responsible Firefighting Foam Management Act” establishes statewide uniform requirements that would restrict the use of firefighting foam containing added PFAS chemistries for training, restricts their use in testing, while also allowing for continued sale and use against real-world fires.
“By passing this important bill, Virginia’s legislature is taking a responsible approach to ensuring continued access to these essential firefighting tools, while at the same time eliminating potential environmental impact during training and testing,” said Rob Simon, Vice President of the American Chemistry Council.
Delegate David Bulova (D-Fairfax), a chief sponsor of the bill, noted, “I am proud that Virginia is the first state in the nation to enact common sense measures that will allow for continued use of superior foam during live emergencies, while minimizing potential environmental exposure by prohibiting their use for training exercises. What I really like about this bill is that it has broad support from both the public and private sectors, and demonstrates what can be accomplished when groups work together for the public good.”
Class B firefighting foams control combustible and flammable liquid fuel fires that can be challenging to manage. The use of these materials can be essential for handling such fires at military bases, airport operations, storage tanks, petroleum/chemical operations, rail transportation and some power generating facilities. The ability of foam to rapidly extinguish flammable liquid fires is credited with saving lives and property, and also minimizing the global pollution that can result from the uncontrolled burning of flammable liquids.
“This is a great step towards preventing pollutants from washing into local waterways during firefighter training exercises,” said Rebecca Tomazin, Virginia Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Thank you to Delegate Bulova and other Virginia legislators for taking this important action.”