March 29, 2007

All members are instructed not to use 3M AFFF foam concentrate either carried on your appliance or in your station’s store. If you have any doubt about the type of foam you are being asked to use you and your comrades should refuse to use it until you are satisfied that the foam is not the 3M AFFF product.

This instruction supercedes the Department’s Operational Safety Bulletin 2007/02 in which it claims that this foam “should be left in situ and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions”. The Union has now discovered that the perfluoro octanyl sulfonate (PFOS) ingredient in the foam is far more detrimental to human health then we were first led to believe.

The Union was also misled by the Department claiming that very little of the 3M AFFF foam was still in use throughout the state. It now appears that all Varley Commander appliances throughout the state and a large number of the Type Two appliances may be carrying this foam in inbuilt foam concentrate tanks. While the quantities of PFOS in 3M foam may be low, a number of recent scientific studies have established that these chemicals take many years to pass through the body and have been linked to a number of cancers.

The US Environmental Protection Authority, the British Department of Environment and the OECD have all raised concerns with PFOS. The Department’s own In Orders 2000/12 nominate that the foam concerned is no longer suitable and is being phased out of service due to concerns for the environment. Well we say seven years is enough and the stuff should be removed right now. The Union will be meeting with the Department again tomorrow and looking for a serious commitment to have the stuff removed from stations as a matter of priority.

Simon Flynn

State Secretary