U.S. Department of Defense Issues MILSPEC Standards for non-PFAS Fluorine-Free Foam (F3)
At a Glance
On January 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued a new military specification (MILSPEC) for Fluorine-Free Foam (F3) liquid concentrate fire extinguishing agents, to be used on Class B hydrocarbon liquid fires with land-based applications. These F3 foams are designated as a replacement for Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) concentrated foam, which have resulted in environmental impacts when deployed. The new MILSPEC is intended to provide the required specification for the development of new commercially available F3 alternatives to be used on Class B fires. It is anticipated that products meeting the MILSPEC criteria will be certified later in 2023. In March 2023, the Pentagon announced that it will no longer purchase PFAS containing firefighting foams later in 2023 and phase it out entirely in 2024.
Concurrent with this announcement, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued Cert Alert 23-01 that once a suitable replacement foam agent has been developed meeting the DoD specifications, FAA will accept the replacement (F3) foam to be used at Certificated Part 139 airports. Given the timing of the replacement F3 foams, airport operators should plan on phasing out of PFAS-containing AFFF by October 1, 2024, under DoD and FAA requirements.
However, because of the wide uses and training requirements associated with AFFF, over decades, these compounds are persistent in the environment and may require investigation and potential remediation actions. Additionally, because AFFF adheres to the equipment where AFFF was stored (i.e., firetrucks, storage units, hoses, distribution lines), these equipment’s will need to be cleaned or replaced before the new F3 foams are introduced. Otherwise, the persistence of AFFF will contaminant the replacement products, resulting in potential PFAS environmental impacts.