PFAS firefighting foam compliance – 2022 update

Firemen in firefighter uniform during fire drill and training for safety with foam and chemical fire suppression systems

From 26 September 2022, per the PFAS firefighting foam compliance 2022 update, it will be an offence to discharge PFAS in any other circumstance except for a particular person to prevent or extinguish a fire deemed as catastrophic or for a person to prevent or extinguish a fire on a watercraft in state or prescribed waters. It will also be an offence to sell a portable fire extinguisher containing PFAS unless granted specific permission.

Here are some guidelines to consider with the latest updates to comply with the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2021.

Firefighters attacking aircraft fire and making entry

The Environment Protection Authority and PFAS firefighting foam regulations

According to their website, the EPA is the primary regulator for New South Wales. It partners with businesses, government and the community to reduce pollution and waste, protect human health and prevent the degradation of the environment.

PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are a large group of manufactured chemicals used in firefighting foam. Their heat, oil and water resistance makes them effective in suppressing fires.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (PFAS Firefighting Foam) Regulation 2021 (the Regulation) was established to prevent pollution caused by PFAS and to enable the EPA to exempt a person or persons from offences relating to pollution caused by specific types of PFAS firefighting foam. It was also established to declare the EPA as the regulatory authority for any matter relating to preventing pollution caused by firefighting foam.

What happens to the firefighting foam regulation in September

As we mentioned, from 26 September 2022, new regulations will come into effect pertaining to individuals and circumstances where PFAS fire extinguishers can be discharged.

Also, from September 2022, it will be an offence to sell a portable fire extinguisher containing PFAS unless granted specific permission from the necessary authority or as part of a watercraft purchase. Many existing fire protection solutions will need to be reviewed to ensure they comply with this new legislation.

fireman extinguishes the fire with foam


Research shows that PFAS chemicals used in AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) negatively affect the environment. The chemicals seep into the soil over time and pollute the groundwater and surrounding ecosystems. Fish, animals and even humans have shown varying toxicity levels from accumulated traces of AFFF.

Although AFFF is not dangerous, the chemicals used in AFFF in the firefighting equipment are.

Research has shown that overexposure to AFFF chemicals can lead to various forms of cancer. With this in mind, suppliers and manufacturers are also being held accountable under the new amendment to identify and test for PFAS in firefighting foam.

DEM Fire will be conducting fire protection and fire safety audits on fire extinguishers and fixed foam systems and recommending alternatives.

Man leaning on the car

The ‘fire’ stops here

From the end of September, suppliers and manufacturers will also need to disclose the ingredients used in fire suppression equipment; otherwise, the equipment will need to be sent for testing.

The new regulation will also obligate that certain storage requirements be adhered to by way of appropriately designed and constructed storage and containment areas. Our fire safety experts will also be able to advise on the operational and handling process plus the disposal and decontamination too, as the regulation will also govern this.

Do you have a fire extinguisher or firefighting system that needs to be managed by a fire protection expert? Allow our team of fire compliant specialists to contact you.

Contact DEM Fire & Essential Services Group

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