Call to Action: Comment on Proposed TIA 1594 on NFPA 1971

July 11 • 2021

The IAFF is urging members to support amending NFPA 1971 (Standards on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting) with Temporary Interim Amendment (TIA) 1594, which will eliminate the UV light degradation test for moisture barriers in turnout gear.

This is a first step in the effort to develop personal protective equipment (PPE) free of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a largely unregulated group of toxic, human-made chemicals used in hundreds of consumer products, including firefighting foams and gear, that are associated with cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, developmental issues, reduced fertility, high cholesterol, obesity and hormone suppression. Existing moisture barriers are manufactured with PTFE, a PFAS polymer, and thermal decomposition of PTFE under non-flaming conditions is known to produce toxic compounds, such as monomeric tetrafluoroethylene, an IARC Group 2A probable human carcinogen.

Take action on TIA 1594 – submit public comments to NFPA by August 4, 2021, at [email protected]. Use subject line “Comment on Proposed TIA 1594 on NFPA 1971.”

Submitted by IAFF General President Ed Kelly, TIA 1594 recognizes the need to develop PFAS-free alternatives in fire fighter turnout gear.

Specifically, TIA 1594 calls for the removal of section 8.62 of NFPA Standard 1971 that requires a UV light degradation resistance test for moisture barrier materials. The UV light test does not address the mechanism of failure of previous moisture barriers and lacks scientific merit. Furthermore, it is illogical to have a UV degradation test for moisture barriers when outer shells manufactured with meta-aramid-, para-aramid -and polybenzimidazole-based fabrics that do degrade when exposed to UV light are not subject to a UV test. Alternative materials can and should be evaluated for use in fire fighter moisture barrier products.

Rest assured, the IAFF will not endorse an alternative until it is vetted and thoroughly tested by our own newly established IAFF Science and Research Department to ensure it is safe for members to wear.

The journey to PFAS-free PPE starts now. Submit public comments to NFPA by August 4, 2021, at [email protected] with the subject line “Comment on Proposed TIA 1594 on NFPA 1971.”