Toxic Exposure

Toxic PFAS & Fire Fighter Turnout Gear Lawsuit

Active case

North American fire fighters sadly lose their lives to cancer more than any other way in the line of duty. Determined to root out potential causes and save lives, North America’s largest fire-fighting union, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), retained Motley Rice along with two other independent, nationally-recognized law firms to investigate one of the leading health risks affecting fire fighters today – toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS) in the protective bunker gear fire fighters rely on to keep them safe.

PFAS Law Firms | Official IAFF Legal Team

Motley Rice is proud to co-counsel with Simmons Hanly Conroy LLP headquartered in Alton, Ill., and Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. in New York (known collectively as the PFAS Law Firms) to lead IAFF’s fight to spur industry-wide changes. Our firms also jointly represent individual fire fighters who are battling occupational diseases, and the survivors of fire fighters who lost their lives.

Contact a PFAS lawyer

If this cause is personal to you and you believe you or a loved one may have been sickened or died by a PFAS-related disease, know that Motley Rice welcomes you contacting us at any time to discuss a potential case. You can reach us by submitting this form or calling 1.800.768.4026 to begin a free consultation.

PFAS health effects

PFAS, known as forever chemicals, are highly toxic, slow to break down, and build up in people repeatedly exposed to them. PFAS have been around since the 1950s and are found in firefighting foams and fire fighter turnout gear.

American and European environmental regulatory agencies, as well as organizations concerned with human health and safety, have determined that PFAS are highly toxic and hazardous to humans and the environment. Fire fighters regularly exposed to PFAS chemicals in their turnout gear seem to have been hit especially hard. Nearly 75% of the people added to the IAFF’s Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Wall in 2022 died from an occupational cancer.

Exposure to toxic PFAS is linked to several forms of cancer including:

  • Kidney
  • Testicular
  • Breast
  • Pancreatic
  • Colon
  • Liver
  • Bladder
  • Thyroid
  • Prostate

Additional diseases of concern include: 

  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Ulcerative colitis 

A months-long investigation spearheaded by IAFF and its legal team, the PFAS Law Firms, culminated in a lawsuit March 15, 2023 filed in Massachusetts Superior Court, Norfolk County, against the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

IAFF lawsuit filed

The lawsuit alleges regulations enforced by NFPA are so strict that they essentially require fire fighters to use protective bunker gear containing toxic PFAS chemicals. Specifically, NFPA’s Standard 1971 requires a barrier layer within protective gear that can withstand a 40-hour ultraviolet light degradation test. While a longer time frame means it is more difficult for water and potentially dangerous materials to breach the barrier, toxic PFAS-containing products are the only available gear that have passed the 40-hour test.

The IAFF’s lawsuit seeks to hold NFPA accountable for effectively requiring fire fighters to wear allegedly toxic gear at a detriment to their long-term health.

“The NFPA has a unique role in promulgating standards that eliminate fire-related deaths and personal injuries while also protecting fire firefighters. Our client alleges NFPA conspired with the PFAS industry and abdicated its solemn obligation to North American fire fighters and it seeks to stop this alleged conduct,” said toxic exposure attorney David Hoyle.

Read more on the lawsuit.

Our experience representing people in toxic exposure and other litigation

Our roots fighting for workers’ safety and health run deep. Our attorneys have represented fire fighters in cases involving cancer, wrongful death, and personal injury as well as in lawsuits involving pension fund securities fraud, data privacy and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Motley Rice had a role in the investigation of and led the litigation efforts over the 2007 Sofa Super Store fire that took the lives of nine fire fighters.

Our attorneys are known for suing asbestos companies, the tobacco industry, September 11, 2001 financiers, and the entire opioid supply chain. We represent individuals, families, workers, communities, governmental entities, and investors in a variety of areas, including plaintiffs in class actions and individual lawsuits that allege PFAS contamination, and in other toxic injury, mesothelioma, wrongful death, workplace injuries, environmental contamination, and securities cases.

The PFAS Law Firms maintain joint responsibility but operate independently. No legal affiliation, association, or partnership is implied. The IAFF logo is a registered trademark of the International Association of Fire Fighters.