Fire Service Gets Eco-Friendly Fire-Fighting Foam – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

The Department of Sustainable Development initiates Saint Lucia’s transition to eco-friendly fire-fighting alternatives with a 1,050 gallon donation of fluoride-free foam to the Saint Lucia Fire Service.

Used to fight flammable liquid fires, it replaces aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) which contain PFASs (short for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

PFASs have earned the moniker “forever chemicals” because they can persist in our environment without breaking down for tens of thousands of years. They are toxic and bioaccumulate, causing serious health problems in people, plants and animals.

Permanent Secretary in the the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Anita Montoute pledges continued support to the Fire Service in this phase-out effort, “This moment is not just about the quantity of foam being handed over. It represents a tangible demonstration of our ongoing efforts to innovate and prioritize safety without compromising our environmental stewardship. While today‘s contribution is a commendable step forward, we acknowledge that it’s just the beginning. The foams provided are a fraction of what is required for comprehensive fire protection, especially in critical zones such as airports and industrial facilities. This awareness motivates us to continue our efforts and collaborate with your Department and other partners, to ensure that Saint Lucia can fully transition away from harmful foams in the very near future.”

An appreciative Acting Divisional Officer at the Fire Service, Jermaine William hopes that this gesture is the beginning of a long term relationship with the Department of Sustainable Development to improve conditions for firefighters, “We are grateful that we have gotten to this point so that we can start our transition as a Department. We will not only stop with the firefighting foam, and not stop with George FL Charles [Airport] only, but we will continue until we basically transition our international airport, which is in the south and all the fire stations around Saint Lucia. From there, we will continue to lean on the Ministry of Sustainable Development to change our fire kit which does contain PFASs.”

The donation also includes special containers to collect the rinse water from the cleanout of the aqueous film forming foam from the fire service’s tanks, hydrants and piping works before the fluoride free alternative is added. The containers will then be shipped abroad for appropriate disposal.

The official hand over was held in a brief ceremony on Wednesday, 15th May 2024 at the George F.L. Charles Airport. Funding for these resources is made possible through the GEF 5558 Project entitled “Development and Implementation of a Sustainable Management Mechanism for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the Caribbean” executed by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean.

SOURCE: Department of Sustainable Development