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  • Class A Foam

    Is anyone else out there using Class A foam for structure fires ( Not CAFS)? If so what have the results been? We have had mixed results.

  • #2
    We've found Class A foam to work very well in certain situations. First situation, recycling plant that went up. Imagine a warehouse full of newspaper, cardboard etc. Foam worked well to keep the Class A materials covered and soaked while water would just run off. Second situation was a residential structure where the guy had so much stuff in the attic, there was no way to make an attic. Once the bulk of the fire was knocked down, we could soak everything and let the foam sit where again, straight water would run off. All other situations, there was no noticeable difference.


    • #3
      Would agree with PA on this!

      If there is "active" fire (i.e. lots of flames) the foam will evaporate with the water.

      But once the fire is knocked down, it really helps keep it knocked down.

      Our standard is we flow foam unless told not too -- most fires are quick knockdowns, so any "waste" of foam initially is minimal. But when you pull up to the fully involved house under construction with no exposures, well turn off the foam and hit with regular water till it's cooled down. Then we'll pump Class A up the ladder pipe and give it a good "overhaul" coat while the troops rest, refresh, and get ready to move in for a final pull it apart overhaul.

      Because of the ability to keep a fire knocked down, fires such as outbuildings that use to take in the 3500 to 4000 gallon range to knockdown, overhaul, and completely extinguish now are taking 1200 gallons or less.

      *But* it still doesn't relieve you of the neccisity to properly overhaul and pull apart the remains to make sure the fire is definitely out cold!


      • #4

        What type of foam and applicator/eductor do you use?

        we are looking into class a foam for initial attack as well.



        • #5
          Why would you not use Class A foam?

          Cost? yes its more expensive than water. Water is essentially free. It costs approx $5.00us to treat 100 gallons at .5%.

          However your done and back home in 1/3rd the time.

          Class A loves carbon, A class A fog will literally grab the carbon smoke particles out of the air and bring them to the ground improving interior visibility.

          Knock down is faster, no rekindles, overhaul is faster, clean up is faster, less water damage, Many times investigators have commented on how much easier cause and origin has been to determine as all the evidence wasn't blown across the house.

          We installed an on board foam system on our last pumper 3 years ago and haven't faught a fire since with out it. Vehicles, structures, brush, tires. We even put it in our back packs, fire brooms soak in it.

          Our next unit will have a CAFS on it.

          Why would anyone ignore one of the greatest fire fighting tools of our day?!!!



          • #6
            We've been using class-A for 5-6 months now and it made a believer out of everyone. I hope our next unit has a caf system on it. I agree with CAPTAIN WHO, why would anyone spec a unit without these new systems.
            Yes I agree cost is a factor, but the benefits far outweigh the cost!

            [This message has been edited by ffnbs (edited 04-18-2001).]


            • #7
              We have had an electronic class 'A'foam system for just two years now on our new pumper (FoamMaster). Due to the minimal calls we get, we don't get alot of actual practice on structures. However, there is a large fleet of 35 to 65 foot fishing vessels based here and we usually get an average of one call a year to them to fires 'down below' in the engine room. The beauty of this system is the 'perfect mix' of foam that we get over the traditional eductor system we used to use. All it takes is to plug in the percent foam that we want and the computer sets the perfect mix every time. In the past with the eductor system, many times we would end up filling the hold with a watery, useless foam that flooded the fire and sometimes almost sink the boat! Now, we don't have to worry about the accuracy of the eductor pickup, elevation height of the nozzle, etc. as the foam input is measured by flow of the water. As I said, the electronic computer makes "the perfect mix" every time.


              • #8
                The main benefit of Class A foam is that it alters the physical properties of water. Class A foam decreases the 'surface tension' of water allowing water to soak into the surfaces increasing cooling. The surface area in contact with water is greater. Water molecules tend to stick to each other resulting in the 'beading' commonly seen on car hoods and stuff. Class A alters that property giving us faster extinguishment with less water. Hope that helps.


                • #9
                  i have seen the foam used looks like awinner but i have been around long enough to also see high pressure fog and where is it now.
                  also i have a hard enough time explaining a hole in the roof to homeowners let alone trying to explain why thier house is full of foam


                  • #10
                    We have had LOTS of positive things happen with the use of foam. try this experiment sometime and see for yourself. next time you guys have a house to burn to the ground and use for training. just before you let er go for good, spray some foam on one or two sides of the exterior walls. as the house eventually collapses, the walls you coated will almost defintley fall last. we've experimented with this trick several times. you may have to reapply foam to it a couple more times though.


                    • #11
                      Hello all,

                      I would have to agree with most of the statements made regarding class"A" foam.

                      We've been using Class "A" foam for 3 years now in conjunction with CAFS. Our results have been all positive. The basic firefighting tatics of an aggessive interior fire attack remain the same. Just having Class "A" foam or CAFS on the fireground will not put out the fire. You still have to "put the wet stuff (foam solution) on the red stuff", CAFS or otherwise. Class "A" foam enhances water! When applied with CAFS it incredibly enhances water!

                      Just a quick comment to IRFD120. Class "A" foam is in no way comparable to high pressure fog. It works entirely different than the way high pressure fog does or dosen't work. It is like comparing apples to oranges.

                      And, if you fill a homeowners house with foam during a fire attack, then you are doing something very, very wrong with regards to your your tatics and procedures. When the Class "A" foam is properly applied during an interior attack with CAFS or just class "A" foam through a fog nozzle, there is little foam residue left. It gets absorbed by the class A materials. Class "A" foam is basically soap detergent.

                      If your using Class "A" foam for fire attack, your ahead of the others who don't. The only thing that puts you further ahead is CAFS!

                      Training and education on the topic of Class "A" foam and CAFS is still the simple solution to the many "questions" and/or "problems" that come up on this subject.

                      Good Luck!

                      Capt. Lou
                      "Got Foam"


                      • #12
                        We use a Class A/B foam with microbes. It is a univeral foam that can be usesd at 1% to 2 tenths. We only pay $7 a gallon or 35 gallons a can, if we buy 8 five gallon cans at a time. It is really good foam. If you want to know where we get ours email me at [email protected]. What do you guys pay?


                        • #13
                          I have a question about foam use. Our neigboring town recently had a brush fire, we were called in for mutual aid. When we arrived on scene, the dept was applying foam to the brush fire. The fire was on a hill with small saplings up to about 3' high with sparse taller trees. At the top of the hill(the fire started at the bottom and worked it's way up) was a house with a 500 gal propane tank. My dept's tanker was used to fill the "home" dept's trucks and were relieved when we were empty. Back at the station, we were discussing the use of foam on a brush fire. Wecame to the conclusion that if foam were to be used, it would be used to "secure" the perimeter along with any other objects in the way such as the propane tank, which they did not foam. About 15 min after we were back in service, they called the other dept that was on standby to go to the scene for rekindles. They were on scene just as long as we were for rekindles. Our thoughts on this situation was that if straight H2O was applied in the beginning, the rekindles wouldn't have happpened. When we left, the foam was dissapating, and firelets were popping out. We just rescently took delivery of a new pumper with on board foam and was wondering if foam for initial attack on brush fires is commom. I think the dept uses a CAFS system. This dept also dumped their foam into a portable tank during a tanker shuttle a few years ago


                          • #14
                            Class A is great, but you have to know how to use it.

                            CAFS is currently the the top of the line tool for its application.

                            CAFS is able to operate in 3 modes.

                            Compressed Air Foam

                            Compressed Air Foam is very limited in a wildland application. If the solution is to dry all the water is held by the bubbles. All this does is block air to the fuel. As the bubbles break down you get rekindle.
                            If you need to protect a structure CAFS is great the Dry sticky foam clings to things and reflects the radiant heat. Such as the tank and building mentioned above.

                            FOAM- For wildland fires. injected at .1 to .2% this produces very little bubbling but allows the carbon loving component of class A to penetrate and draw the water into the fuel to prolong the cooling effect.
                            In the situation above the actual extinguishment of the fire and a fire break ground soak around the base of the tank and the structure.

                            Water only. Pretty much anywhere you used any foam. Protection or extinguishment. But you'll need more apparatus and several extra water tenders to do the same job.

                            CAFS is establishing a strong place in the industry. We just need to learn when and why we use it.

                            Hydraulic tools in Vehicle extrication have made a large difference. But there are times when a recip saw, air chisel or Haligan tool, will do a better and faster job for a given task.

                            We don't use a 10lb sledge hammer to drive a finishing nail in a block of wood. The right tool at the right time in the right application.



                            • #15
                              An addendum to mu above post:
                              I'm not sure what the foam setting was on the CAFS system, but the foam was VERY dry. The dept only had 1 attack truck running with all foam and serveral FF's with Indian Tanks. If we had used our 2500 gals of water from our tanker, plus the 1000 on the other 2 trucks that were sitting idly by, we could've knocked the fire out with just water, and used the foam for protecting exposures.
                              As a side note, I think the dept has learned the foam lesson. Today we had anothe brush fire in that town, and not a single drop of foam was applied.


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