PFAS "FOREVER Chemicals"

Discover how we are leading the charge in addressing PFAS contamination in fire fighter protective gear. Learn about the IAFF’s ongoing advocacy efforts, research, and member-focused initiatives meant to safeguard your health and protect you from toxic chemicals.

What is PFAS?

Recent studies have shown that all three layers of fire fighter turnout gear contain Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), a class of fluorinated chemicals known as “forever chemicals,” linked to cancer and other serious health effects. These studies highlight the risks associated with the materials and finishes used in turnout gear even before it is exposed to its first fire.

PFAS poses an unnecessary – and serious – occupational threat.

What is the IAFF doing about it?

As a result, in August 2022, the IAFF and the Metro Chiefs joined forces to alert members to the adverse health risks posed by PFAS in turnout gear, draw attention to the need for PFAS-free turnout gear, and recommend precautionary steps for members and departments until next-generation gear can be developed and put in use.

Member health and safety are non-negotiable. In January 2023, the IAFF announced it had retained three nationally recognized tort law firms to assist the union in its effort to end fire fighter cancer and remove PFAS from use in the fire service.

Letter to Members
Safety Advisory

Recognizing the urgency of the moment, the IAFF and Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro Chiefs) have come together to notify members of the adverse health risks from fire fighter gear.

PFAS Law Firms

General President Edward Kelly announced at ALTS 2023 that the IAFF had retained three nationally recognized law firms in the fight to address toxic pfas use in the fire service.

General President Edward Kelly announced at the 2023 Affiliate Leadership Training Summit that the IAFF had retained three nationally recognized law firms to fight for those made sick by PFAS forever chemicals.

The firms – Motley Rice LLC; Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC; and Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. – were selected by the IAFF to:

  • Change the regulatory standards and systems that have enabled toxins in fire fighter protective turnout gear
  • Demand that all turnout gear be replaced with PFAS-free alternatives
  • Be available to be retained by members and their families to seek compensation for PFAS-related injuries

We need to combat what is killing us. Cancer is the number one killer of fire fighters, and for years, corporate interests have put profits over our lives. It stops now. This initiative will accelerate our search for PFAS-free gear.

Edward A. Kelly, General President

The independent firms – collectively known as PFAS Law Firms – have established a website for members seeking information on the effort.


IAFF members may use the form below to submit PFAS-related questions to our staff. Your note will be routed to the appropriate department for review and response.

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