Gov. Holcomb Encourages Fire Departments to Participate in Program to Protect Firefighters’ Health and Safety, Environment
Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced yesterday the next steps in a new program to collect and dispose of hazardous firefighting foam that contains PFAS, a known contaminant.
“Indiana has chosen to be a leader in this PFAS foam program, because, frankly, firefighting is hard enough without having to worry about these hazardous chemicals,” Gov. Holcomb said. “We hope more departments will sign up so we can do all we can to protect Indiana firefighters.”
About 200 fire departments have already signed on to participate and have identified about 50,000 gallons of the foam that will be safely disposed of at no cost to the department.
Fire departments across the state can register for this free program by visiting the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) website at DHS.IN.GOV. The program is a partnership between IDHS and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).
The Indiana Class-B Foam Collection Initiative makes Indiana one of only a handful of states in the country to create a PFAS foam disposal program. This program allows the state to offer a free pickup and environmentally friendly disposal service, which saves fire departments thousands of dollars in disposal costs while protecting Hoosiers and the Indiana environment.
The initiative was launched by Gov. Holcomb, State Fire Marshal Joel Thacker and IDEM Commissioner Brian Rockensuess on Wednesday during a kickoff event with fire departments statewide, hosted at the Greensburg Fire Department in Decatur County.
PFAS are widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment. Extended exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to four of the top eight types of cancer most common to firefighters: testicular, prostate, mesothelioma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In 2020, Indiana law prohibited the use of PFAS foam for any training purposes.
“This collection program is an opportunity for the State to honor those men and women who sacrifice so much for us every day,” Thacker said. “PFAS exposure represents a hidden danger to firefighters, and Indiana is determined to protect them as much as possible through this program.”
“IDEM is proud to work with our state partners to protect the hardworking men and women who risk their lives for us,” Rockensuess said. “PFAS foam has the potential to also negatively affect our groundwater and removing it from our communities will make the environment safer for all Hoosiers.”
A state vendor will begin collections in May by contacting departments that have completed the Foam Collection Initiative Survey to arrange a pickup. IDEM will monitor the disposal program.
Established in 2005, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) leads the way to a safer and more secure Indiana. With jurisdictions involving emergency management, building code enforcement, as well as training and certification for first responders around the state, IDHS works to provide a safe, secure and resilient Indiana. For more information about IDHS, visit dhs.in.gov.