In 1968 the addition of foam to the fire service changed the industry. Foam allowed fire departments to increase their effectiveness while battling fires, especially chemical fires. While the addition of foam offered many benefits, the American public is now experiencing serious health consequences. If not contained properly, the PFOA and PFOS used in Class B foam can cause serious health side effects to human health.
One hour from New York at the Stewart Air National Guard Base, fire fighters have been using foam for over thirty years. In November the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation declared Stewart Air National Guard Base, home to the 105th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard, a state Superfund site. Civilians from the City of Newburgh are rightfully upset considering PFOA and PFOS Health Concerns are linked to cancer, thyroid problems and other serious health issues.
Although Foam has changed the way we fight fires, we must consider this important externality. How can industry develop firefighting foams that add value to the firefighter operation and simultaneously be good for the environment? This is an important discussion that can impact the way we fight fires and live in our local environment.