Read the full article by Andrew Wallender (Bloomberg Law)
“Members of the nation’s largest firefighters’ union want their organization to stop accepting funds from gear makers until they commit to ridding the garments of so-called ‘forever chemicals.’
Manufacturers of protective garments worn by firefighters have given at least $420,000 to the International Association of Fire Fighters since 2016, according to a review of federal disclosures by Bloomberg Industry Group.
A resolution will be up for debate at the union’s upcoming annual convention Jan. 25-28. It asks the IAFF ‘to no longer accept sponsorships from the chemical industry, textile manufacturers, or PPE [personal protective equipment] manufacturers.’ Convention delegates will be able to amend the resolution’s language before voting to approve or reject it.
A second proposal asks the union to seek further testing on the presence of the chemicals in gear, and work with manufacturers to develop safer alternatives.
The moves are among the first member-driven attempts by the 323,000-person union to get suppliers to work on developing gear that doesn’t contain chemicals known as PFAS, or for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
‘I don’t think it’s heavy lifting so to speak,’ said Jason Burns, former president of IAFF Local 1314 in Massachusetts. He backs the resolution addressing sponsorship and advised its drafting. ‘If we say don’t take the money, we’re not crippling our organization financially. That’s something our organization can and—because of the health impacts—should deal with.’
The transactions represent a small fraction of the overall IAFF’s overall revenue stream. The union reported net assets of more than $23.5 million at the end of 2019.
One resolution calls out a history of ‘biased science,’ while the other says that ‘current bunker gear manufacturers continue to deny the potential for any health problems created by their use of PFAS.’
The union said it is ‘a leader in forcing changes in the industry when data and science show a link between any chemicals, including PFAS in fire gear, and occupational cancer in firefighters,’ IAFF spokesperson Doug Stern said in a statement…”