Toxics in firefighting law

2018 Washington state law restricts the use of a class of chemicals called PFAS (per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances) in firefighting foam and personal protective equipment (PPE). These restrictions affect manufacturers and users of PFAS-containing firefighting foam and firefighting PPE treated with PFAS.

Ecology is working with local fire departments and other first responders to collect and safely dispose of PFAS-containing foam. 

The law also directs us to work with the Department of Enterprise Services to develop preferred purchasing guidance. This will help other public sector partners avoid purchasing firefighting foams and firefighting PPE that contain PFAS.

What does the law include?

Firefighting foam training ban

Beginning July 1, 2018, use of PFAS-containing Class B firefighting foam for training is prohibited across Washington, no exemptions. 

Firefighting foam sales ban

Beginning July 1, 2020, the manufacture, sale, and distribution of PFAS-containing Class B firefighting foam will be prohibited. There are four exemptions to this prohibition: military, Federal Aviation Administration certified airports, petroleum refineries and terminals, and certain chemical plants.

Firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE) notice

Beginning July 1, 2018, manufacturers and sellers of PFAS-containing firefighting PPE must notify purchasers in writing if the equipment contains PFAS and the reasons for using the chemicals. The manufacturer, seller, and purchaser must keep the notice on file for at least three years, and provide it to Ecology if requested.

Definitions

  • Class B firefighting foam means foams designed for flammable liquid fires.
  • Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, for the purposes of firefighting agents and firefighting equipment, means a class of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.
  • Firefighting PPE means any clothing designed, intended, or marketed to be worn by firefighting  personnel in the performance of their duties, designed with the intent for the use in fire and rescue activities, including jackets, pants, shoes, gloves, helmets, and respiratory equipment.

Safe disposal program for firefighting foam

We are working with local fire departments and other first responders who have stockpiles of firefighting foam that contains PFAS to collect and safely dispose of this material. Ecology will pay for all disposal costs associated with the program, including pick up, transport, and disposal. 

Frequently asked questions