Reducing and Preventing Releases of PFAS-Containing Firefighting Foam
Minimizing Future Release of PFAS to the Environment
Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) is a type of widely used firefighting foam used to extinguish Class B flammable liquid and petroleum fires. All AFFF contains intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as an active ingredient. Other types of Class B firefighting foam that also contain intentionally added PFAS are alcohol resistant AFFF (AR-AFFF), film-forming fluoroprotein foam (FFFP), alcohol-resistant fluoroprotein foam (AR-FFFP), fluoroprotein foam (FP), and alcohol resistant fluoroprotein foam (FPAR).
A key recommended action of the Connecticut PFAS Action Plan is to minimize future releases of PFAS to the environment by reducing or preventing future releases of PFAS-containing firefighting foam, including all AFFF. Specific recommendations of the plan include passing legislation to limit the future use of such foams, developing a take-back program for State agencies and municipal fire departments that currently possess PFAS-containing foams, the procurement of PFAS-free foam alternatives, and developing and implementing best management practices for handling PFAS-containing firefighting foams. DEEP has made significant progress towards implementing each of these recommendations.
- Connecticut's AFFF Take-Back Program (June 2023)
- Decontamination of AFFF-Impacted Fire Apparatus (January 2023)
- Connecticut’s Program to Evaluate AFFF Alternatives & Equipment Decontamination Options (December 2022)
- AFFF Take Back Program Update and Municipal Fire Department Guidance (May 2022)
- AFFF Take-Back Program and PA 21-191 (July 2021)
- Banned training with firefighting foam containing intentionally added PFAS (e.g., AFFF) upon passage (July 13, 2021).
- Banned most other uses of AFFF by October 1, 2021, with some exceptions.
Allowed Extensions for Class B PFAS Firefighting Foam Use are available for certain facilities.
- Authorized an AFFF Take Back Program.
- Required DEEP Identification of an Alternative Fluorine-Free Firefighting Foam.
DEEP and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Commission on Fire Prevention and Control (DESPP-CFPC) are implementing the take-back and safe disposal of aqueous film-forming foam containing PFAS from State and municipal fire departments. The Take-Back Program consists of three phases described below.
Phase 1: AFFF Concentrate Collection Program
Phase 1 of the Take-Back Program included the collection of containers of AFFF concentrate from municipal fire departments around the state. Between April 2021 and March 2022, more than 35,300 gallons of AFFF concentrate were collected from over 250 fire departments and safely disposed.
Phase 2: Regional Trailer Decontamination Pilot and Replacement Purchases
Phase 2 of the Take-Back Program evaluated decontamination methods for the State’s eight regional foam trailers from 2021 to 2022 and recommended a course of action for addressing the trailers that were not included in the pilot program. DEEP retained two contractors using two different proprietary cleaning agents to demonstrate the effectiveness of cleaning three trailers and three fire trucks.
The key findings were determinations that:
- the proprietary cleaning agents tested were more effective at removing PFAS than plain water rinses,
- residual PFAS remained in the foam trailers following cleaning with proprietary cleaning agents, and
- the residual PFAS present in the trailers will cross-contaminate new fluorine-free foam that may be used in the trailers in the future, potentially at levels high enough to exceed drinking water action levels. In those cases, deployment of the new foam may still pose a potential environmental and/or human health risk.
The results of the decontamination demonstration project are documented in the following reports:
Following completion of a cost-benefit analysis, DEEP is currently pursuing purchase of new regional foam trailers to replace the older trailers that contained AFFF.
Phase 3: Municipal Fire Apparatus Drainage
Phase 3 of the Take-Back Program will involve the decontamination of municipal fire apparatus statewide. (Any current AFFF onboard the apparatus will be drained from the apparatus, and collected for proper disposal.) This phase of the Take-Back Program was on hold pending additional funding. However, during the 2023 legislative session, funding was allocated to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to support phase 3 activities. For more information please contact Jeff Morrissette, State Fire Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-264-9230.
Fluorine-Free Foam Acquisition
Fluorine-free foam (or "F3") can be used as a replacement for AFFF in many circumstances. Municipalities may purchase replacement fluorine-free foam from any vendor. In general, foams that have been certified by GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals are acceptable for use in Connecticut.
The Commissioner of DEEP has selected National Foam Universal F3 Green as the fluorine-free foam to be used by State agencies. (Other acceptable fluorine-free foams may be identified by DEEP in the future.) Municipal fire departments may therefore choose to purchase replacement foam through the state contract (#21PSX0028AB) issued by the Department of Administrative Services for National Foam Universal F3 Green firefighting foam.
Apparatus Decontamination Guidance
DEEP in cooperation with the State Commission on Fire Prevention & Control has issued Guidance Update: Draining and Rinsing AFFF from Municipal Onboard Systems (May 2022). This guidance is intended to prevent the accidental discharge of PFAS-containing foam into the environment and is voluntary.
DEEP stresses, however, that removing AFFF from fire apparatus and fire suppression systems, cleaning or rinsing the apparatus and systems, and transitioning to fluorine-free foam are collectively significant environmental improvements over the continued use of AFFF. These actions represent important risk reduction steps that should be taken by both public and private entities.
For general AFFF-related PFAS questions and information, please email DEEP.PFAS@ct.gov. For information about Phase 3 of the AFFF Take-Back Program, please contact Jeff Morrissette, State Fire Administrator, at email@example.com or 860-264-9230.
Related DEEP Webpages
Content last updated June 27, 2023