Markham Fire and Emergency Services Transitions Fire Trucks to Non-Toxic Bio-Based Gel

April 2, 2024


MARKHAM, ON –  April 2, 2024 – Markham Fire & Emergency Services (MFES) announced it is transitioning its entire fire apparatus fleet to an innovative non-toxic bio-based gel to improve the health and safety of its firefighters, residents and the environment. By adopting the new gel, MFES becomes the first large municipal fire department in the world to make the switch.

“The City of Markham and MFES takes the health and safety of our staff, residents, visitors and our natural environment very seriously,” said MFES Deputy Chief Matt Keay. “Once we identified the risk associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – known as PFAS – in our firefighting foams, we immediately began looking for safer alternatives.”

“I want to thank the leadership at MFES for recognizing the hazards posed by firefighting foams and undertaking the transition of our fire trucks to the non-toxic gel,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “As a forward-thinking City, we strive to put the health and safety of our community as a top priority and this initiative is a clear example of our efforts to continuously find new ways to improve our services.”

“The Markham Professional Firefighters Association supports any innovation based on making Markham’s firefighters and residents safer,” said MPFFA President Andrew Ireland. “The removal of PFAS containing foam and the conversion to a safer alternative is fully supported by the MPFFA.”

MFES partnered with FireRein and PPE Solutions to replace its fluorinated firefighting foam, which contains PFAS, with the new fire suppressant Eco-Gel™. The substance is a non-toxic water additive that suppresses both Class A and Class B fires. Firefighters will therefore use less water to knock down both regular fires and hydrocarbon fuel fires. The gel suppressant is already in use in several other industries, including wildfire and mining, due to its safety and effectiveness.

“Actively seeking alternatives to foams containing PFAS was a priority for everyone involved in the safety of staff,” said Health and Safety Co-Chair Battalion Acting Chief Nick Patel. “I am proud we found a safer, effective solution.”

“This project involved two main components: safely removing and responsibly disposing of the PFAS containing chemicals and replacing it with a safe and effective alternative,” said Deputy Chief Keay. “FireRein and PPE Solutions provided outstanding support and expertise in helping us switch over our fleet and provide training on the new product’s use.”

The non-toxic gel has been tested in the DRAGO unit, an auxiliary vehicle that shoots mist over 200 feet with a width of 50 feet wide, and found that it increased reach by approximately 20 per cent while improving the effectiveness of fire suppression.

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