PFAS Policy

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”), PFAS are a class of manufactured chemicals that began being used in industrial applications and consumer goods in the 1940s because of their useful properties.  There are thousands of different individual chemicals that collectively makeup of the family of PFAS.  The two PFAS that were most widely used and have been most closely studied are perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (“PFOS”).   Additional information regarding PFAS can be found at USEPA’s website

PFAS are common to many products because these chemicals are highly durable and hold up under extreme environmental conditions such as wide ranges of temperature, abrasion, and contact with harsh chemicals. Many products that use PFAS resist or repel water and various types of chemicals.  As a consequence, they are commonly used in many household items such as stain-resistant carpet, non-stick pots and pans, rainwear or outdoor clothing, shampoo, and cosmetics. 
For firefighter and other first responder gear, PFAS-based finishes are most often used on outer shell materials that can be externally exposed to different liquids and different forms of contamination. The use of PFAS-based finishes on such materials helps ensure that the gear repels liquids that come into contact with the gear in order to prevent potential harmful exposures.  For similar reasons, PFAS can also be found in different underlying barrier layers of gear such as a moisture barrier or other type of protective barrier.

PFAS has been used in first responder gear for two principal reasons:

  1. It provides a stain and water-repellent finish to some fabric layers to keep gear clean, light, and dry faster. This property can also contribute to enhanced breathability, which lowers the physiological stress imposed on first responders, and improves material durability.
  2. It is also used in some material layers to create a barrier that keeps dangerous liquids and chemicals from penetrating through the clothing and contacting the first responder’s skin or under clothing while providing a high level of breathability to lessen the potential of heat stress while wearing the clothing.
No. Ricochet does not make PFAS or directly apply PFAS onto any of its products.  Instead, Ricochet purchases some materials and components from various suppliers that have PFAS-based finishes already applied, use a PFAS-containing barrier film, or both. The manufacturing of PFAS chemicals is undertaken by chemical companies. Material or component manufacturers then apply FAS finishes to the products that they sell to Ricochet to attain the targeted properties.

Yes, in some components.  As of November 2023, to make gear that meets the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standards, Ricochet must use at least some garment materials and components that contain PFAS. However, Ricochet is keeping up with new emerging materials where the use of PFAS is eliminated. In particular, an industry announcement was made in April 2023 for a new moisture barrier that while qualified as an individual material is still awaiting full certification and is not currently available for use in Ricochet firefighter protective clothing. In addition, some suppliers have created non-PFAS finishes for their outer shell materials that Ricochet is now offering. (For a list of our products that contain PFAS, please see our PFAS Products Disclosure Document).

According to USEPA, a few specific PFAS chemicals have been linked to certain health problems, including liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, fertility issues and certain types of cancer. The majority of studies to date have focused upon potential health risks associated with exposure to PFAS in drinking water.  However, because PFAS are highly stable in the environment, there is increased attention on the entire family of chemicals and other potential exposure pathways.  USEPA, other regulators, and researchers continue to study possible health effects associated with exposure to PFAS. Some of this research is related to determining if PFAS in gear can contribute to these effects as compared to other potential exposures such as firefighter exposure to decomposition PFAS-containing products in structural fires, use of PFAS-containing firefighter foams, use of consumer products with PFAS, and consumption of food or water containing PFAS (the current most frequent source of individual exposure). 
We’re working on it!  We are working with suppliers to build PFAS-free, turnout gear that can be certified to NFPA standards and hope to have it as an option for our customers in 2024.  
As with all new products, there can be tradeoffs when new material technologies are introduced. Our foremost concern is to ensure that any product introduced by Ricochet complies with all minimum requirements of the r NFPA and protects first responders from the hazardous conditions they encounter on the job. For those materials or components that are made without PFAS, we believe there will be pros and cons to the new material or component. The transition to PFAS-free outer shells may mean that clothing exteriors are more likely to pick up water weight, stain more easily, and absorb increased amounts of contaminant. However, we do not know how these new finishes will affect overall outer shell durability or ease of cleaning, which could be better or worse than outer shells that use PFAS-based finishes. Where barrier materials no longer use PFAS, there could be similar decreases in performance particularly as related to breathability and durability, though there is no current information to evaluate these potential impacts since new moisture barriers are not available in certified gear. If breathability is lowered, it is possible that the choices of composites involving selection of outer shell and thermal barriers could further be affected. It is also possible that other shortcomings or advantages will be discovered once the new PFAS-free technology has been used in the field for a few years. Ricochet will inform its customers about any tradeoffs as additional information and field data become available. 

For more information, feel free to visit our website or talk to your Ricochet sales representative. We will do our best to keep you as informed as we are!