Station Pride Articles

NBC Boston Investigates Fire Gear PFOA and Cancer

Station Pride has been following a wide-reaching situation with serious implications regarding Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFAS). These acids have been used in AFFF Firefighting foam and it’s been used to impart heat and stain resistance to our fire gear fabrics. The acids have been leaching into water tables and likely increasing the risk of and potentially causing cancer in military families and firefighters. Diane and Paul Cotter of Massachussetts first brought this information to us. We determined there was sufficient evidence to help them and move on the issue. You can read those articles here:

The Real Cancer in your Gear

PFOA Follow-up Testing Data

Fire Gear Lab Test Results

Over the last two years, we’ve placed a magnifying glass on the issue which somewhat shocked the fire service. There have been numerous statements and claims from manufacturers and dealers refuting these facts and even the fire gear testing data from Dr. Peaslee. Likewise, we’ve seen research, legislation, lawsuits, and exploratory committees following where the information leads.

NBC Boston Investigates took on the PFOA/PFAS chemical fire gear issue. You can watch the investigative report here.


Last month, Dr. Graham Peaslee, an Experimental Nuclear Physicist from the University of Notre

Dame, interviewed in the NBC investigative report, visited a Boston fire station to discuss fire gear and looked at storage methods. Dr. Peaslee had this to say about the latest methanol rinse of our fire gear.

“Yes, it means that the methanol wipe of the turnout gear really is ~14,000 times 

higher than the drinking water limits…. “Under normal wear and tear we are not sure how much PFAS comes off turnout gear…we are going to try to measure that soon…but if it made its way into drinking water at anywhere near the rate we saw with a methanol wipe, that would contaminate lots of drinking water. This has real implications for end-of-life disposal of the turn out gear…but because we don’t know whether these chemicals have any dermal sorption capability, we don’t know whether it poses a risk to the wearer simply by skin contact. Even a little dermal absorption could be a bad thing…but we just don’t know yet.”


As we understand it, a massive pooling of resources is underway from a few unlikely sources. The Last Call Foundation Honoring Firefighter Michael Kennedy, a Health and Safety Officer from the Salem, Ma Fire Department, and Fire Maul Tools along with Dr. Peaslee have banded together to provide fire gear samples and financial assistance to test 18 years worth of brand new and used fire gear. It’s an incredible story and one we will be bringing to you in another article. 

Furthermore, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is seeking grant funding for PFAS studies for First Responders here:

This year the State of Washington passed a PFAS/PFOA law regarding AFFF and Firefigher PPE here.

An Italian publication written by Martina Tesser highlights the moisture wicking properties of our fire gear compared to the cancer hotspots in firefighters here.

We’ll be following this story more as time passes. You can expect a whirlwind of opinions on this issue. Our only interest in this matter is giving you the facts as we know and verify them. Stay tuned for more.


About Mutual Aid (43 Articles)
Station-Pride is committed to providing high-quality content for our viewers. In order to do so, sometimes our contributors just aren't enough. This profile has been created to request mutual aid from other writers and authors in the fire service who are willing to share their knowledge with our followers. Please keep an eye out for guest contributions, and some with anonymous authors. Please keep in mind, Station-Pride contributors hold themselves to a very high level of professionalism. With that being said, these articles are un-edited and viewer discretion is advised.

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  1. Notre Dame University Pushes the Modern Fire Service to be Better. – Station Pride

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