The South Australian Government has introduced a ban on the use of fluorinated firefighting foams due to concerns over the chemicals' environmental impacts.
The ban covers all types of fluorinated firefighting foams, both C8 types and more modern ≤C6 types.
C8 foam may contain perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), while ≤C6 types contain reduced amounts of PFOA. PFOS is considered a persistent organic pollutant.
Why are they being banned?
Fluorine is a chemical that does not break down in the environment. It is also a hazardous chemical that can build up over time to toxic levels, especially in ground water. Click here to access the EPA government website where more detailed information can be found on the ban.
The wide-reaching ban may have significant consequences for major hazard facilities, which frequently rely on fluorinated foam suppression systems because of their increased effectiveness over non-fluorinated alternatives.
Two-year compliance window
The 2 year window is to enable the equipment to be replaced over the natural maintenance activities of the equipment. All foam/AFFF Fire Extinguishers are serviced every 6 months, so at this service they are required to be replaced. Your emergency fire warden staff should advise you on what equipment is required to be replaced, or potentially retired from service. In some cases alternative fire equipment may replace existing Foam fire extinguishers. All foam/AFFF fire extinguishers MUST be removed by 31st December 2019.
Am I affected?
If you have a foam/AFFF fire extinguisher on your site then you will be required to replace it at the next level 2/annual service or by 31st December 2019. The non-fluorinated foams are not compatible with your current foam fire extinguisher as they require different aerating nozzles. Retrofitting these to current fire extinguishers results in a fire extinguisher that does not comply with Australian Standards. Some sites have foam pickups linked to hose reels. These will need to be upgraded to be compatible with the new foam.
How much will it cost?
Each site is unique and will be affected differently. As a guide the retail cost of a Foam/AFFF fire extinguisher is $228 plus GST. If you want to understand how your site is affected please call us on 8262 9245 or talk to our service technician next time they are on site.
For any further information or assistance with emergency fire equipment please contact the MTA's WR team by clicking here.