As a career firefighter of 27 years, and a leader of the Professional Firefighters of Maine, I was disappointed to see Matthew Blais attack Maine legislation to protect firefighters from cancer-causing flame-retardant chemicals. In his July 29 Press Herald op-ed, Blais, who is associated with a Texas-based chemical industry trade group affiliate, offered misleading and previously debunked information in regard to L.D. 182, which recently passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was vetoed Tuesday by the governor.

Firefighters know that flame retardants don’t save lives. Smoke detectors and sprinklers save lives. Flame retardants never worked like they were supposed to, and we now know that they can actually make fires more dangerous by producing carcinogenic gases when they burn.

The only ones that benefit from putting flame retardants in furniture are the out-of-state companies that sell the chemicals, represented by chemical industry trade groups such as the one Blais is affiliated with: the North American Flame Retardant Alliance, created by the American Chemistry Council.

As far back as 2012, the Chicago Tribune exposed the “deceptive campaigns that led to the proliferation of these chemicals, which don’t even work as promised,” and specifically discredited Blais’ work as based on “flawed data and questionable claims.”

The Maine Legislature spent hours in public hearings and work sessions, reviewing expert testimony and looking closely at the facts to figure out what makes sense for Maine. Both Republicans and Democrats are to be commended for the time they put into this process. After reviewing all the facts, it was clear that L.D. 182 is a good bill, and it passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (139-5 in the House and 34-1 in the Senate).

Cancer is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for firefighters. We must take action. This bill is an important step in the right direction.

Ronnie Green