News & Media

Response to Sunday Herald Sun report

By: Mick Bourke

  10.00 AM 9 February, 2014

Views: 5222

The Sunday Herald Sun today ran another inaccurate and irresponsible story about CFA that some members may find disturbing.

The article by journalist Ruth Lamperd was questioning the use of a certain type of fire fighting foam - a foam used by fire agencies in Australia and around the world - and ran claims that it was dangerous and could cause serious illness.

The article did not carry any scientific evidence or proof that there was any risk. It stated biased opinions as facts.

After speaking with VFBV today, I am aware that the article also did not include comments from them including that ‘this foam is used by our sister agencies in NSW and SA'.

It is irresponsible and incorrect for the Sunday Herald Sun to say that the CFA is knowingly putting the health of its valued volunteers at risk.

I will be discussing this and other inaccurate reporting with senior management at the Sunday Herald Sun and will be referring this latest article to the press council.

Below are the questions we were asked and the responses we provided. Almost none of what CFA provided was included in this unbalanced story.

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Question: Sunday Herald Sun

Hello,

The Sunday Herald Sun is carrying a story tomorrow about a fire fighting foam Forexpan S which the cfa agreed in 1997 and then five years ago that it wouldn't use because of serious health concern links. Another foam product was agreed on. The story addresses that it was bought back in for use last year. during stock shortages of the regular product. It is still being used, primarily by volunteers.

I seek. comment from CFA to the following questions (response required  by 12.30pm today):

Answer:CFA

The above statement has factual errors.

CFA does not believe that fire fighting foam Forexpan S poses a health risk.

It is widely used around the world and by other Australian fire services.

CFA has an industrial agreement with UFU that their members will not use this foam.

Five years ago CFA identified a different foam (called First Class) that both UFU and VFBV agreed to use and this change was made.

Last year CFA ran low on supplies of this foam (First Class) and we purchased Forexpan S stock due to a national shortage of First Class foam. Some First Class foam supplies were kept aside for UFU members to use and they did not use Forexpan S (as per the industrial agreement with UFU).

Fire fighting foams are used for the suppression of fire to protect homes and properties and lives.

Q: Sunday Herald Sun

 Why did the CFA not tell its paid staff that Forexpan S was back in circulation since last summer?

A: CFA

CFA kept to its industrial agreement with UFU that their members would only use First Class foam.

Both products are equally safe and equally effective - there is no scientific evidence that one is better than the other.

Q: Sunday Herald Sun

Is CFA management aware of an acute skin reaction suffered by a volunteer to the foam in the recent Grampians fires?

A: CFA

There was a hazard report that a volunteer had a reaction to the Forexpan S.

People will have different reactions to different products and this can happen with any product that involves chemicals. The volunteer should not use this foam if has an effect on their skin.

Q: Sunday Herald Sun

Were volunteers told of the health concerns attached to the foam?

A: CFA

CFA has investigated the ingredients of all foams it uses and the hygienist determined that there are no health impacts.

It is widely used around the world and by other Australian fire services.

CFA also has risk control measures - including training processes and protective clothing - for the use of all foams.

Q: Sunday Herald Sun

Does the CFA accept chemicals in the product also have links to some more serious conditions, such as infertility and blood disorders?

A: CFA

No CFA does not.  There is no definitive evidence of health impacts.

CFA has investigated the ingredients of all foams it uses and the hygienist determined that there are no health impacts.

Last Updated: 10 December 2015