A DIRECTIVE for all Victorian firefighters to wear breathing apparatus or masks when using trucks equipped with B-Class foam should not alarm firefighters or the public, the state’s emergency services commissioner says.
Earlier this month The Courier reported elevated levels of toxic perfluoro chemical PFOS – the same chemical that was found at the controversially closed Fiskville CFA centre – had been detected at the Craigieburn Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre. Local firefighters, including Ballan’s Ian Ireland questioned why it was not closed like Fiskville.
In a CFA memo all firefighters were urged to wear protective masks when using trucks fitted with B-Class foam, to avoid exposure to potentially toxic chemicals. In a joint statement the MFB and CFA said only a small number of trucks at Craigieburn were found to have perfluro chemicals which came after inadvertent mixing of older foam containing perfluro chemicals with new foam.
“As a precaution, MFB firefighters – who have a higher frequency of exposure to foam and water from trucks than the general public – will wear P2 masks or, if necessary, breathing apparatus when using foam solutions until we are confident there are no trucks with foam containing trace amounts of perfluro chemicals.
“Similarly, CFA has instructed all firefighters to wear P2 masks when pumping water from first aid tanks on CFA appliances fitted with Class B bulk foam tanks, or when pumping Class B foam from appliances.”
Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley told The Courier all vehicles exposed to that foam would be taken out of the fleet and washed.
“That will only take a matter of hours. In the mean time the vehicles that are out of the system will be replaced by vehicles in the service exchange fleet and hopefully this process is done quickly,” Mr Lapsley said. He said the design and age of the Craigieburn site made the scenario completely different to the Fiskville site. The design of the training ground means the foam contamination is isolated from other areas.
“The area has been shutdown and is in the process of being cleaned,” he said.
The MFB says testing to date indicates perfluro chemicals are confined to some of trucks and foam stock. Affected foam stock will be destroyed and all fire trucks on site at VEMTC quarantined.