By Dick St. George and Glenn Johnson
Charlotte Fire Department doesn’t use foam with PFAS
To the Editor:
I would like to clear up some misconceptions with regards to a fire our department responded to last winter at the garage located on Church Hill Road. Questionable statements have been published in multiple places that need to be set straight.
Type and Use of Foam at Fire Scenes
Charlotte Fire and Rescue (CVFRS) uses and has used for the last 20 years PHOS-CHEK 881 class A foam linked here which is a forestry service approved Class A foam. It is a surfactant, equivalent to Dawn Dish soap. It contains no added PFAS. PHOS-CHEK WD-881 Class A foam is highly biodegradable. More than 85 percent reverts to carbon dioxide within 28 days of exposure to ambient conditions in the environment. MSDA sheets are available at their website but are for pure concentrate exposure.
Prior to that we used a product called Flameout with the same properties.
CVFRS applies this product at a rate of 0.03 percent per gallon of finished foam in our compressed air systems which allows us a quicker knockdown with less time and water usage. Applying this with our Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS) to the point of being 5 to 10 times more effective than just plain water along with other benefits.
I’ve reached out to other area departments, most are our mutual aid partners, on their foam. Shelburne, Ferrisburgh, Hinesburg and Monkton fire departments all use one of the foams mentioned above and have for years for interoperability on the scene of a call and we can share foam at an incident.
As for the Air Guard apologizing for contaminating the site with PFAS and paying for the cleanup, the only thing they brought to the scene was 4,000 gallons of clean city water. The same as the first load of water from the departments of Hinesburg, Ferrisburgh, Shelburne, Vergennes and New Haven. When that water supply was depleted, water was pulled from two dry hydrants in ponds in Charlotte. It is important to note that these departments did not refill when leaving the scene due to the water being full of particles that is rough on the pumps of fire trucks.
If someone had brought a Class B foam with PFAS in it we would not have used it. Mixing it with the Class A foam used in our area would have turned into a jell which would have resulted in a repair costing in the range of $50,000 and placing the truck out of service for months.
We are aware and very mindful of the Issues of PFAS and to my knowledge have not used any in over 30 years. I can not attest to what was used prior to that.
As for using a year’s worth of foam to suppress the fire, CVFRS arrived on scene in less than 4 minutes with six firefighters. Using this foam allowed us to (1) save a truck next to the burning fuel tanks, (2) prevent the spread to the house across the road which was a real possibility and (3) prevent the rupture of two fuel tanks with 2,500 gallons of fuel which would have contaminated the waterway downstream into Lake Champlain. Furthermore, the main power line next to the building was on the verge of melting and did not have to be turned off. This line supplies many customers in Charlotte and other communities from the Velco substation in sub-freezing conditions.
Dick St. George
Good weather is time to prepare for storms
To the Editor:
I’ve been a lineworker at Green Mountain Power for 26 years. Over my career I’ve worked to keep Vermonters powered up in every kind of weather you can imagine. Severe weather comes to Vermont all year round. It can be windy, wet, freezing cold, icy, or sweltering hot.
These days I help lead the line crews. For the past four years I’ve been part of a team that coordinates during storm restoration. It is tough and exhilarating work but getting to help customers — especially turning the lights back on — is the very best part of the job.
Safety is critical to all the work we do — whether restoring power or working on important proactive resiliency projects — and there are steps you can take to be safe at home in case of severe weather.
It is good to have some basics on hand all year, and good weather is a great time to plan ahead. Make sure you have a charged cellphone, flashlights with fresh batteries, and some bottled water on hand. More tips that can help you get ready for storms are on the Green Mountain Power website.
It is also important to always stay far away from any downed lines or trees. That goes for when they’re down because of a storm or for when a vehicle crashed into a pole. Just stepping on the ground around a downed line could be deadly — the ground can be energized and there is no way for you to know. Always assume downed lines and trees are still energized, stay far away, and call for help.
The Green Mountain Power app is an easy way to report outages and get restoration alerts, plus manage your Green Mountain Power account and track energy usage. You can download it to your phone or tablet from the app store, and get more details from the Green Mountain Power website.
Stay safe and have a great summer season.