FDL Fire Rescue discontinues use of PFAS foam

Foam present in Starkweather Creek in October shows elevated levels of PFAS.(Photo: WI DNR)
Foam present in Starkweather Creek in October shows elevated levels of PFAS.(Photo: WI DNR)(NBC15)
Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 3:36 PM CST
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The Fond du Lac Fire Department is the first in our area to eliminate the use of a firefighting foam that contains PFAS.

We first told you about the concern with the foam more than two years ago. That's when groundwater contamination, linked to Johnson Control's testing of the foam at its Marinette Tyco plant, was uncovered.

Bucket after bucket of "Class B" firefighting foam sits at Fond du Lac Fire Rescue's Station One. Used sparingly, only to blanket flammable vapors so they don't ignite, this supply will stay shelved. The department is making the decision to keep the lid on the potentially harmful substance.

According to Asst. Chief Erick Gerritson, "We decided to purchase all environmentally green foam that does not contain PFAS and we're switching over to that and we're going to get rid of all of our old foam."

The move, comes after the city was approached by the water authority. Water authority officials were concerned about the fire departments use of the substance and its potentially harmful effects on the environment -- especially since Fond du Lac's water supply comes from 17 well locations around the city.

"Recently the city has a public safety training center that we just opened up, I believe it was in the spring on this year. So, one of my concerns there was, are we using this foam? Will this cause us problems with our well water within the city?" questioned Travis Kloetzke, water utility general manager.

The Fond du Lac water supply was tested for these contaminants back in 2015. The results came back as non-detected meaning there was no contamination. By moving to the more environmentally friendly foam the fire department is helping to make sure the water supply stays safe.

Kloetzke adds, "This is a step of eliminating sources, to just be proactive, and eliminate the sources."

The fire department says its more environmentally friendly foam should arrive before the end of the month.