IAFF Engages National Law Firms in Fight Against ‘Forever Chemicals’

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has retained three top firms to change regulatory standards, demand PFAS-free gear, and seek compensation for victims of cancer, the leading cause of firefighter deaths.

The IAFF will partner with three nationally recognised toxic tort law firms to assist the organisation and its members in ridding their protective equipment of cancer-causing PFAS “forever chemicals.”

At a leadership training summit in Las Vegas, IAFF General President Edward A. Kelly announced the union had selected Motley Rice, LLC; Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC; and Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. to assist the organisation and its more than 333,000 members:

  • Change the regulatory standards and systems that have enabled toxins in firefighter protective turnout gear
  • Demand that all turnout gear be replaced with PFAS-free alternatives
  • Seek compensation for victims and their families

“We need to combat what is killing us,” said Kelly. “Cancer is the number one killer of firefighters, and for years, corporate interests have lied to us about the carcinogens in the protective gear designed to keep us safe. It stops now.”

“These three firms have decades of experience fighting for hardworking families who have been taken advantage of, including recovering billions of dollars for their injured clients,” he said. “This is the challenge of our generation – and I refuse to let it become a challenge for our children and their children. The IAFF will do whatever is necessary to remove PFAS from our gear, protect the health of our members, and the wellbeing of our families.”

The firms have established a website, PFASLawFirms.com, for members seeking information on the effort.

“It’s an honour to be entrusted by the IAFF to be a part of their legal team charged with effecting change in current standards, promoting the replacement of PFAS-laden gear, and seeking justice on behalf of members riddled with cancer,” said Anne McGinness Kearse, of Motley Rice, LLC. “We do not take this responsibility lightly and are ready to pursue, on behalf of the IAFF and/or its members, all viable legal strategies to meet these challenges and bring about needed change.”

“Simmons Hanly Conroy is ready and dedicated to serve as the advocate for our brave firefighters and the IAFF in their battle with cancers caused by PFAS,” said Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy.

“Sullivan Papain is honoured to represent and work with the IAFF to ensure its members are provided with safe PPE,” said Nick Papain, a partner at Sullivan Papain. “Having served as general counsel to the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York Local 94 for nearly 40 years, we have dedicated much of our careers supporting the wellbeing of firefighters through advocacy, legislation, and litigation and look forward to doing the same for the IAFF and its members.”

The IAFF also hosted the world premiere of Burned, a documentary produced by actor Mark Ruffalo. It tells the storey of how the spouse of a Worcester (MA) firefighter revealed significant exposure to forever chemicals in turnout gear following his cancer diagnosis.

“In 2022, with more research on the horizon outlining just how much exposure this made for firefighters, we hit a breaking point. We decided that this information needed to reach firefighters as quickly as possible, and thus Burned was born,” said filmmaker Elijah J Yetter-Bowman. “No sensible person would require first responders to knowingly expose themselves to toxic materials as a requirement to do their jobs – but that’s exactly what has happened for decades. Firefighters need protective gear that won’t poison them, and I believe we will get there rapidly.”

This article is republished from Fire Engineering under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

Image by fxquadro on Freepik.

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