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The History of the ECP

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Firefighting Foams

From the 1980s CFA, in line with emergency management practices worldwide, used Firefighting Foams containing Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

What is PFAS?

PFAS refers to a group of chemical substances, including Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOS and PFOA are notable for their ability to cover the source of fuel, depriving the fire of oxygen and for repelling oil, grease and liquids thereby preventing re-ignition.

PFAS have been used since the 1950s in a range of common household products and in some specialty applications. These include surface protection films, waterproofing for paper and cardboard packaging, clothing, furniture or equipment and non-stick surfaces for cookware.

Emerging Concerns

Suggestions around potential health and environmental impacts associated with long term use of firefighting foams containing PFOS and PFOA had gained momentum by 2007 when CFA responded by discontinuing their use at all training facilities and allocating resources to the identification of replacement foams for operational use.

Long Term Impacts

In December 2011, with growing understanding of the persistence in the environment of PFAS and new discussion around human health impacts, CFA commissioned a report by Dr Robert Joy (known as the Joy Report) to investigate and better understand impacts of historic practices at Fiskville Training College and to provide a blueprint for rehabilitation and changes to infrastructure and processes.

Environmental Compliance Program

With the release of the Joy Report in June 2012, CFA put in place the foundations of what is now known as the Environmental Compliance Program (ECP). The program was initially focussed on the former CFA Training College at Fiskville.

The closure of Fiskville

The CFA Board announced the permanent closure of the Fiskville Training College in March 2015 as it could no longer guarantee the safety of the site.

Evaluation of all VEMTC Campuses managed by CFA.

Following the closure of the Fiskville campus, CFA has worked with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), independent environmental consultants and other government and local authorities to assess and address potential environmental impacts of historical training practices including the use of fire-fighting foams at six* of the seven VEMTC sites managed by CFA (Bangholme, Wangaratta, Longerenong, Penshurst, Huntly and West Sale).

*The VEMTC Sunraysia site was built and completed in 2014-2015. No firefighting foams containing PFAS have been used at the site.

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