Firemen are working to extinguishing fire using foam

Firefighter Foam Exposure Injuries

Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law June 7, 2023

Firefighting is commonly held to be one of the most noble professions, with individuals risking their lives each day to save others from harm. However, up until recently, what was unknown about this profession was the risk firefighters were taking due to exposure to firefighting chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer. In fact, studies show that firefighters have a 9% greater risk of developing cancer than those in other jobs, and are 14% more likely to die from it according to a paper put out by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 

If you’d like to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney about the impact of firefighter foam, reach out to me, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law. I am proud to serve individuals in Houston, Webster, South Houston, Pasadena, and the rest of Texas. 

What Is Firefighting Foam?

Firefighting foam is a generic name given to a foam commonly used to put out fires and is particularly effective at putting out difficult fires caused by jet fuel and petroleum. It works by spreading a thin layer of foam over the flammable material, thereby depriving it of oxygen and causing the fire to be suppressed and extinguished. This substance is sometimes referred to as aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) and since its first use in the 1960s, it’s been made with “forever” chemicals, specifically per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), that have been shown to cause certain cancers.  

While new firefighting foam does not use PFAS, there are still thousands of firefighters who were exposed when the old foam was in use. Many firefighters may be eligible to file a personal injury claim or workers’ comp claim due to their work injury. These injuries are most commonly found with military personnel or airport firefighters since they’re more likely to have been exposed to these chemicals than firefighters who mainly addressed residential and commercial fires. 

The Dangers of Firefighter Foam Exposure

If you—or someone you love—is a firefighter who may have been exposed to this toxic foam, you may start to develop certain symptoms or injuries. These diseases are related to the PFAS, known as "forever chemicals," since they can take an incredibly long time to break down in nature and in the human body. These injuries and illnesses may include:  

  • Adult-onset asthma 

  • Liver damage 

  • Ulcerative colitis 

  • Leukemia 

  • Pancreatic cancer 

  • High cholesterol  

  • Thyroid disease 

  • Reduced fertility 

  • Lymphoma 

  • Breast cancer 

  • Weak immune system 

Recovering Damages & Pursuing Compensation

With most workplace injuries and illnesses, your first step would be to address the issue with your employer and pose the question, “What benefits are available through workers’ comp?” However, for PFAS exposure claims like this, you may have to work with a personal injury attorney to get proper compensation rather than your employer. These lawsuits are fairly new and may be brought upon the AFFF manufacturers who produced the firefighting foam. You may also qualify to be part of a class action lawsuit. 

Whatever form your litigation takes, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. This compensation should include past, current, and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or any other damages directly related to your exposure.  

Dedicated Legal Advocacy

When you reach out to me—Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law—you’ll gain a trusted legal partner in this difficult and stressful time. I can help you make sense of your choices and fight on your side for what’s right. You’ve already dedicated your life to others, and you’ve earned the chance to be repaid for your suffering. If you live anywhere in Texas, including Clear Lake, Friendswood, League City, Alvin, Dickinson, Bacliff, Kemah, Seabrook, or Santa Fe, contact me at my office in Houston or Webster to get started.