Push to ban firefighter foam in Colorado passes first test at Capitol

DENVER -- A retired Colorado firefighter who is now a state lawmaker is committed to passing a bill that aims to make first responders' jobs safer.

His goal? Limit the use of foam with PFAS chemicals in Colorado.

“The foam is toxic,” Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs) said. “When it’s used for training or emergencies, if it’s not caught and contained, [it] runs into the soil gets into water systems."

On Thursday, lawmakers advanced in the House Energy and Environment Committee the bill, which would ban the use of certain types of foam during training exercises and bans selling the product to fire departments starting in 2021.

FOX31 has reported on issues with firefighter foam in recent years in Colorado.

In 2018, Commerce City residents were warned of possible contamination because foam had gotten into the water supply.

In 2016 several communities around Peterson Air Force Base were notified of possible contamination of their water supply by the EPA.

“When it first was announced, everyone went into a crisis mode,” said Liz Rosenbaum, a community advocate with the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition.

Rosenbaum represents Coloradans impacted by toxic foam.

“This is a solid first step,” Rosenbaum said.

To be clear, the bill does not ban the use of foam in emergency situations. However, Exum hopes new restrictions will encourage the development of safer foams.

“Hopefully, this will encourage more research,” Exum added.

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