Firefighting Turnout Gear Lawsuit

Individuals nationwide have already filed lawsuits against manufacturers of aqueous film-foaming foam (AFFF). Firefighting foam contains toxic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that agencies have deemed known carcinogenic chemicals. Not only do firefighters run the risk of developing serious health conditions from firefighting foam, but their turnout gear increases their exposure to PFAS. Firefighters wear turnout gear to shield them from heat and moisture, but this protective equipment may harm firefighters rather than protect them. Did firefighting turnout gear injure you or a loved one? Reach out today to learn more about how a firefighting turnout gear lawsuit can help you.

Our law firm is currently handling lawsuits on behalf of individuals exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances from their protective gear. Research has linked exposure to these toxic to various chronic conditions and cancer.

What Is Firefighting Turnout Gear?

Firefighters selflessly dedicate themselves to protecting society from raging fires. In this risky occupation, firefighters encounter smoke, flames, debris, and intense heat, all of which can severely harm them. To stand a better chance against these perilous conditions, firefighters equip themselves head to toe in personal protective equipment also known as turnout gear. Since firefighters often have to enter burning structures they need to ensure their clothing fully protects them from the deadly elements. There are various components included in a turnout gear outfit, such as:

  • Helmets
  • Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
  • Gloves
  • Turnout pants
  • Turnout coat
  • Hood
  • Boots

Firefighters incorporate these items into their firefighting turnout gear ensemble to create a full-body uniform resistant to scalding water, falling debris, extreme heat, flames, smoke, and chemicals. With so many items and layers, a complete firefighting turnout gear composition can weigh up to 45 pounds. Firefighting turnout gear can withstand temperatures as high as 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it indispensable when extinguishing fires. Furthermore, it consists of three layers; an outer shell, a moisture barrier, and a thermal liner. The outer shell protects firefighters from cuts, abrasions, and flames. Meanwhile, the moisture barrier keeps chemicals and water at bay, and the thermal liner reduces heat stress. Although turnout gear plays a critical role in a firefighter’s job, firefighting turnout gear manufacturers oftentimes treat personal protective equipment with PFAS to create water, oil, and heat-resistant features.

PFAS in Firefighting Turnout Gear

PFAS are human-made chemicals that contain fluorine and carbon which makes them very resistant to heat. While PFAS make AFFF and turnout gear vital firefighting tools, these “forever chemicals” do not break down. PFAS linger in the environment and can even contaminate drinking water and food. Furthermore, PFAS build up inside the bodies of people repeatedly exposed to these chemicals. Once in the body, PFAS can remain for an extended period of time. Exposure to PFAS is a serious matter because several agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, have classified PFAS as carcinogenic.

Several studies have established that PFAS chemicals are present in firefighting gear in excessively high concentrations. The textiles in firefighting turnout gear discharge PFAS. Studies have shown that PFAS exposure through turnout gear contributes to elevated levels of PFAS in firefighters’ bloodstream. In June 2020, Graham Peaslee, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, examined the consequences of PFAS in turnout gear. Peaslee’s team analyzed 30 samples of turnout gear and found extensive levels of PFAS in the moisture barrier and outer shell. The study concluded it is likely that PFAS can potentially contaminate the thermal layer and come in direct contact with the skin.

Injuries Linked to PFAS

Cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters according to the International Association of Fire Fighters. Additionally, the CDC declared in 2016 that firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population. Exposure to PFAS may result in:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Birth defects
  • Fertility problems
  • Liver damage

In August 2022, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro Chiefs) warned firefighters against wearing their turnout gear out of concern for carcinogenic chemicals. The associations advised firefighters to only wear turnout gear when absolutely necessary, tightly seal it during transport, and wash their hands after they touch the turnout gear due to PFAS within the equipment.

What Do We Know About Firefighting Turnout Gear Lawsuits?

AFFF has been found to have serious adverse consequences for those exposed to it at military bases, airports, and firefighting companies. Lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of firefighting foam for failing to warn firefighters and military personnel about the risks of PFAS and for producing an unreasonably dangerous product to combat fires. Currently, over 3,000 firefighting foam lawsuits are pending in MDL-2873. This multidistrict litigation only deals with plaintiffs who allege the PFAS in firefighting foam caused their injuries.

While there is no multidistrict litigation for firefighting turnout gear lawsuits, many have filed cases in several states. These lawsuits target similar defendants as firefighting foam lawsuits like 3M Co., and DuPont.

Can I Recover Compensation for My Injuries in a Firefighting Turnout Gear Lawsuit?

If firefighting turnout gear harmed you or a loved one, you may recover compensation for any or all of the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses;
  • Past and future pain and suffering;
  • Loss of wages; and
  • Other economic losses related to your injury.

Liability Law and Firefighting Turnout Gear  

  • Manufacturers of AFFF knew or should have known that AFFF containing PFAS could cause serious side effects, including cancer.
  • Firefighters and military personnel were not warned about the dangers of contact with PFAS.
  • AFFF manufacturers designed and sold an inherently and unreasonably dangerous product for firefighting purposes.

How Our Law Firm Can Help You

The Lake Law Firm was founded by Edward J. Lake, Esq., a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others. Our experienced attorneys handle many different types of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and other defective products. The lawyers in our firm have helped collect millions of dollars for their clients. The Lake Law Firm will advocate for you and your rights. Please contact us for a free confidential case evaluation at (888) 274-0139 or submit an inquiry on this page.