On Jan. 30, General President Edward Kelly of the International Association of Firefighters made an announcement at the Affiliate Leadership Training Summit. He says IAFF has retained three nationally recognized law firms to change regulatory standards, demand PFAS-free gear, and be available to be retained by members and families seeking compensation for PFAS-related illness.
“We need to combat what is killing us,” Kelly said. “Cancer is the number one killer of fire fighters, and for years, corporate interests have put profits over our lives. It stops now. This initiative will accelerate our search for PFAS-free gear.”
The firms – Motley Rice LLC; Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC; and Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. – were selected to:
- Change the regulatory standards and systems that have enabled toxins in fire fighter protective turnout gear
- Demand that all turnout gear be replaced with PFAS-free alternatives
- Be available to be retained by members and their families to seek compensation for PFAS-related injuries
- The independent firms – collectively known as PFAS Law Firms – have established a website, PFASLawFirms.com, for members seeking information on the effort.
“It’s an honor to be entrusted by the IAFF to be a part of their legal team charged with effecting change in current standards, promoting the replacement of PFAS-laden gear, and seeking justice on behalf of members riddled with cancer,” said Anne McGinness Kearse of Motley Rice LLC. “We do not take this responsibility lightly and are ready to pursue, on behalf of the IAFF and/or its members, all viable legal strategies to meet these challenges and bring about needed change.”
“Simmons Hanly Conroy is ready and dedicated to serve as the advocate for our brave fire fighters and the IAFF in their battle with cancers caused by PFAS,” said Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy.
“Sullivan Papain is honored to represent and support the IAFF as it works to protect the safety of its members and remove harmful substances from PPE,” said Nick Papain, a partner at Sullivan Papain. “Having served as general counsel to the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York Local 94 for nearly 40 years, we have dedicated much of our careers to supporting the well-being of fire fighters through advocacy, legislation, and litigation and look forward to doing the same for the IAFF and its members.”
“The health and safety of our members is non-negotiable, period,” said Kelly. “If manufacturers or regulatory groups refuse to acknowledge and work to remove these toxic chemicals from the protective gear fire fighters wear, our members have no other viable remedies than to challenge these practices in court. We will take this battle wherever we need to.
“This is the challenge of our generation – and I refuse to let it become a challenge for our children and their children,” he said. “The IAFF will do whatever is necessary to remove PFAS from our gear, protect the health of our members, and the well-being of our families.”
Social media reaction to PFAS IAFF news
Sending love to the entire team involved in #Burned, making its premiere at ALTS today. I’m proud to serve as a producer of this film that exposes the PFAS encapsulated in firefighter gear. Be sure to follow @ethereal__films & sign up for details and updates. pic.twitter.com/jOEeqi02Yr— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 30, 2023
History tells us that unions are the only effective voice working men and women have ever had to combat corporate greed. The @IAFFofficial will do whatever it takes to improve the lives and livelihoods of our members. pic.twitter.com/0GIPUPSzXr— Edward A. Kelly (@IAFFPresident) January 31, 2023
The @IAFFofficial has been a leader in addressing occupational cancer in the fire service. Today we turn our attention to PFAS in our fire gear. We are motivated and energized to keep our members healthy and cancer free. #ALTS23. pic.twitter.com/YRYL2d83Hp— Frank Líma IAFF General Secretary Treasurer (@IAFFGSTLima) January 30, 2023