Fight for our Firefighters by getting the "Turnout" gear replaced
The Firefighter Protective Gear Safety Act, known as such by its short title, is a response to alarming findings regarding the potential exposure of firefighters to toxic fluorochemicals present in their protective gear, as highlighted by a recent study from the University of Notre Dame. This legislation is driven by the recognition that such exposure significantly elevates the risk of cancer, a leading cause of death among firefighters. Its primary purpose is to establish stringent standards for permissible levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighter protective gear, with the ultimate goal of completely replacing all affected gear to safeguard the health and well-being of these essential first responders.
Defining key terms such as "Firefighter Protective Gear" and "PFAS," the Act places the responsibility of developing comprehensive PFAS standards on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in consultation with scientific and medical experts. These standards are subject to periodic review and updates to align with evolving scientific knowledge and technological advancements.
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Act mandates the replacement of all existing firefighter turnout gear containing PFAS with PFAS-free alternatives by January 1, 2027, across all fire departments and relevant entities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is tasked with providing the necessary funding and resources to support this crucial replacement effort.
Transparency and accountability are ensured through annual progress reports submitted by fire departments and relevant entities to FEMA. FEMA compiles and assesses these reports, providing a consolidated report to Congress annually.
Enforcement measures include penalties determined by the EPA for entities found in violation of the replacement requirements outlined in Section 5. Collected penalties will be directed towards supporting research and initiatives aimed at enhancing firefighter safety and well-being.
To fund the implementation of this Act, it authorizes appropriations as necessary. It takes effect on the first day of the fiscal year following its enactment, with a severability clause to safeguard the remainder of the Act in the event of any provision's invalidation. The EPA is entrusted with the task of promulgating necessary regulations and guidelines for effective implementation within six months of the Act's enactment. Periodic congressional oversight will ensure that the Act's objectives are met and adjustments are made as needed.
**BILL FOR LEGISLATION: FIREFIGHTER PROTECTIVE GEAR SAFETY ACT**
**Section 1: Short Title**
This Act may be cited as the "Firefighter Protective Gear Safety Act."
**Section 2: Findings and Purpose**
- Findings: The Congress finds that the protective gear worn by firefighters, including turnout gear containing waterproofing chemicals, may potentially expose them to significant quantities of toxic fluorochemicals, as highlighted by a recent study from the University of Notre Dame. Such exposure poses serious health risks to firefighters, including an increased risk of cancer, which is a leading cause of death among firefighters.
- Purpose: The purpose of this Act is to establish comprehensive standards for permissible levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighter protective gear and to ensure the complete replacement of all affected gear to safeguard the health and well-being of firefighters.
**Section 3: Definitions**
- "Firefighter Protective Gear" refers to the equipment, including turnout gear, helmets, and gloves, designed to protect firefighters during firefighting and emergency response operations.
- "PFAS" refers to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of synthetic chemicals commonly used for their water and grease-resistant properties.
**Section 4: Comprehensive PFAS Standards**
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in consultation with relevant scientific and medical experts, shall establish comprehensive standards for permissible levels of PFAS in firefighter protective gear to ensure the safety and health of firefighters.
- The EPA shall periodically review and update these standards to reflect advancements in scientific knowledge and changes in technology.
**Section 5: Replacement of Turnout Gear**
- The Congress recognizes the urgency of addressing the potential exposure of firefighters to PFAS through protective gear.
- All fire departments, government agencies, and other relevant entities shall be required to replace all existing firefighter turnout gear containing PFAS with PFAS-free alternatives by January 1, 2027.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shall provide necessary funding and resources to support the replacement efforts in order to facilitate compliance with this requirement.
**Section 6: Reporting and Accountability**
- Fire departments and relevant entities shall submit annual reports to FEMA detailing their progress in implementing the replacement of PFAS-containing turnout gear.
- FEMA shall compile and assess the submitted reports and provide a consolidated report to Congress annually to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of this Act.
**Section 7: Enforcement and Penalties**
- Any fire department, government agency, or entity found to be in violation of the requirements outlined in Section 5 shall be subject to penalties as determined by the EPA.
- Penalties collected shall be used to support further research and initiatives aimed at improving the safety and well-being of firefighters.
**Section 8: Authorization of Appropriations**
There is hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.
**Section 9: Effective Date**
This Act shall take effect on the first day of the fiscal year following its enactment.
**Section 10: Severability**
If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid, the remainder of the Act, or the application of such provisions to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected thereby.
**Section 11: Implementation and Regulations**
The EPA shall promulgate regulations and guidelines necessary for the effective implementation of this Act within six months of its enactment.
**Section 12: Congressional Oversight**
The Congress shall conduct periodic oversight of the implementation of this Act to ensure its objectives are being met and to make any necessary adjustments.
[Note: This proposed bill is a fictional version and should be reviewed, modified, and refined by legal experts and lawmakers before actual consideration.]