LAS VEGAS, N.V. (WBOY) — Firefighters put themselves through a lot. Their bodies are subjected to constant toxic chemicals through fires even with protective equipment. It turns out that their equipment may not be helping as much as it seems.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has brought in three top law firms to help change regulations to better protect firefighters from “forever chemicals” found in their protective gear, it announced in a press release.

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals,” are defined by the EPA as “widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.” The CDC reports that high levels of certain PFAS may lead to an increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer.

In October, Clarksburg Fire Department’s Captain Patrick San Julian was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer after serving in the department for 22 years.

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

The IAFF announced at a leadership summit that their partners in this battle would be Motley Rice, LLC; Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC; and Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. to assist the organization. Their plan covers three key points.

  • 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.

“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,” Kelly 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 IAFF represents 330,000 firefighters across the U.S. and Canada and prides itself on being one of the most active lobbying organizations in Washington, D.C.

The firms have created the website for members who wish to learn more.