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SEA Leads the Transition to PFAS-free Firefighting Foam at Airports Nationwide

Port of Seattle Fire Department the first to use special cleaning technology for safely removing PFAS foam from airport fire trucks and replacing with new fluorine-free foam
July 2, 2024

Work is underway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to be the first airport in the nation to use a special cleaning technology that more fully removes foam containing PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” from airport fire trucks and replace it with new fluorine-free foam. All five of SEA’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) vehicles are expected to be ready with the new product by mid-July. Prior to approvals granted in 2023, the nation’s airports were required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue using PFAS foams for aircraft firefighting.

PFAS substances are notoriously difficult to remediate and resistant to biodegradation. The Port of Seattle is contracting with TRS Group, Inc. for the safe and effective removal of the foam. Using TRS Group’s patented technology, concentrations of PFAS are expected to be reduced by more than 99% and generate little waste. This is TRS Group’s first cleaning at a major U.S. airport.

“The transition away from PFAS has been a top priority, met with urgency and diligence,” said Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa. “We’re proud to lead as the first airport to implement this advanced level of remediation. We’re grateful to government partners that have supported us, and we are committed to supporting others preparing to transition.”

The Port of Seattle Fire Department has been a national leader pressing for the transition away from PFAS foam. Since 2018, the Port has worked diligently with local, state, and national partners to bring attention to the need for replacement. In December 2022, Congress officially directed the FAA to prepare a transition plan, which was later published in May 2023. Prior to that plan, preparation at SEA was well underway. The Port took on the extra initiative to find the most effective form of removal and replacement of PFAS from the ARFF vehicles.


“For the health and safety of our firefighters and the public, I felt it was my duty to make this happen for our department and find the best possible solution available,” said Port of Seattle Fire Chief Randy Krause. “We’re doing the right thing by our team and the community. We hope to share the lessons we’ve learned along the way with others around the country, making this much-needed transition easier for everyone.”

In addition to the Port’s five ARFF vehicles, TRS will also clean three vehicles owned by King County International Airport and operated by the King County Sheriff’s Office as part of an enterprising memorandum of understanding between the Port and King County.

"As firefighters, it's our duty to protect people from harm," said Capt. Jonathan Youngblood, ARFF chief at King County International Airport—Boeing Field. "By partnering with the Port of Seattle to have PFAS contamination removed from our vehicles at King County Airport, we're doing our part to reduce the community's exposure to these 'forever chemicals,' as well as protecting the natural environment that we all cherish here in the Puget Sound region."

The Port has also invited airport fire departments from around the country and Canada to come observe the cleaning process. Currently, Salt Lake City (SLC) and Tucson (TUS) are considering site visits, while Oakland (OAK) and San Francisco (SFO) have confirmed visits. Representatives from King County Wastewater Division, Washington Department of Ecology, King County Public Health, and the Federal Aviation Administration will also be visiting the firehouse.

About Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Operated by the Port of Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) serves the people of the Pacific Northwest with essential services, access to hundreds of domestic and global destinations, and economic activity that supports tens of thousands of jobs and produces $22 billion in economic activity. SEA has earned the highest U.S. ranking in Skytrax’s World’s Top 100 Airports for the third year in a row, two consecutive years as Best Airport in North America (2022/2023), and a 4-Star Skytrax Rating, focused on customer-centered travel with better services, facilities, and amenities. SEA totaled over 50.8 million passengers in 2023 – down just 1.8% from 2019 – with a forecast to exceed pre-pandemic traveler volumes in 2024. Thirty-five airlines served 93 nonstop domestic and 30 international destinations including Canada, Mexico, and seasonal operations.


Perry Cooper | SEA Airport
(206) 787-4923 |

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