Bill tackles flame retardants in furniture

Firefighters risk their lives each time they run into a burning building. Tim Flaherty did it for 33 years as a member of the Portland Fire Department, and his wife, Theresa, says his job ended up costing him his life.

(NEWS CENTER) -- After losing her husband to cancer in 2011, a woman in Yarmouth is speaking up about the hidden dangers that come along with fighting fires.

Tim Flaherty worked with the Portland Fire Department for 33 years. His wife, Therese, says he developed cancer because of the toxic flame retardants he was surrounded by when he entered a burning building.

She is speaking in support of LD 182, a bill that would phase out the sale of furniture that contains flame retardants. Environmentalists backing the bill say flame retardants are toxic and their presence in couches and loveseats is leading to increased rates of certain types of cancer among firefighters.

The bill has received strong bipartisan support, passing the house with a vote of 139-5 and the senate 34-1.

Bryan Goodman, a spokesman for the North American Flame Retardant Alliance, says flame retardants help stop or slow the spread of fire, which means less toxic smoke. Goodman says whether flame retardants are present or not, and legislators should take steps to make sure fire fighters have the proper equipment, tools and training to avoid exposure.

The bill is scheduled to be on the table Thursday in Augusta.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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