The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently published the results of a statewide survey of fire departments to determine the extent of use of firefighting foams containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. The survey was designed to help the DNR better understand how much, how often, and why foam containing PFAS is used across Wisconsin. The information will inform efforts by the State, in partnership with Wisconsin fire departments, to address PFAS contamination that has occurred through the discharge of fluorinated firefighting foam into the environment.
The survey reported 77% of respondents purchased, stored, trained with or used fluorinated foam at some point in the past. The majority used fluorinated foam for emergency fires involving flammable liquids or gas. “The DNR Firefighting Foam Survey provides valuable insight regarding the usage of and disposal needs associated with PFAS-containing firefighting foams throughout Wisconsin’s municipal fire departments,” said Chief Chris Garrison, President of the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association (WSFCA).
PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. They do not occur naturally and are widespread in the environment. These chemicals bioaccumulate and can stay in the human body for many years. The discharge of PFAS-containing firefighting foam during emergency fire events or training exercises has been identified as a significant source of PFAS contamination in States across the U.S.
To access the full survey results and other resources including FAQs, visit the DNR’s webpage on PFAS-containing firefighting foam, under “State Survey.”