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Class A foam....when to use it?

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  • Class A foam....when to use it?

    My FD got a new rescue engine with a Class A foam system on it. It is piped to our 2-200 foot two inch bumper crosslays, our 2-300 foot above the pump crosslays, and our 2 rear 2 1/2 inch discharges. The foam tank is 30 gallons and the system is a Hale Fpam Logix 3.3.

    Here is the question we are working on: When to use the foam? One camp says every time we go interior on a structure fire we should be using foam. Others say only during overhaul. Others say at the officer's discretion.

    Honestly I see trouble with all of the above. For me the best choice seems to be any time you go interior for a fire attack the foam should be used. Of course officer's discretion may say not this time if it turns out to be a nothing fire. But to me the effectiveness of the foam begins during suppression.

    I think all of us realize that the fully involved structure is a situation where the foam stays turned off. We are mostly hydranted so water is not a major issue for us in most cases.

    Let me know what you think.


    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  • #2
    The only reason I can see not to use foam is if it is contaminating something or if the goal is not supression but some other purpose (cooling a propane tank comes to mind). Foam is definitely not just for overhaul, it makes the water more effective.



    • #3
      Flow foam by default.

      Officer In Charge can determine when it's use may be discontinued.

      For instance, a fully involved structure when any water will be evaporated before it could roll away.

      (Ok, this is odd...my post should be below McCaldwell's...Firehouse's clock system must be messed up...)
      Last edited by Dalmatian190; 07-19-2006, 07:54 PM.


      • #4
        We use foam on everything, especially fully involved structure fires. It's used for it's heat absorbing qualities and it's ability to make water less dense therefore increasing it's surface area and absorbtion.
        Last edited by CpaceEng1; 07-19-2006, 09:08 PM.


        • #5
          In 1995 we had Husky Foam systems placaed on our new rigs Class A & B. Our policy was to use Class A on structural fires at .5%. I will tell you from expierence .5% was a lot of foam, did I notice a differents in knock down vrs using water, not really, did it work well for exposure protection, yes it did. I will also tell you at .5% we were having early ceiling failure with sheet rock ceilings because the foam being a surfactant it absorbed into the sheet rock rather quickly and down it came. It works great in the overhaul stage especially in the attic for your blown in type of insulation.

          We also had problems with our radio mics not working while trying to transmit. We then backed it down to .2% with somewhat better results, but still had some early ceiling failures. The system was great for vehicle fires using Class A for interior knock down, and Class B for fuel related fires. As a result of the problems I just listed we no longer have the Husky foam systems on our new rigs, we are back to the 5 gallon buckets and proportioners. I'm one for having them, I liked the fact that the operator at the turn of a knob, and activating the system on the officers call you had foam.

          As for the use of foam it's a call the officer should make and your department should adopt a policy for all to work with. If you need more info on our policy give me your E-mail and I will give you a number you can call at the station. STAY SAFE
          Last edited by fdsq10; 07-19-2006, 11:08 PM.


          • #6
            .5% is a lot of class A foam for normal interior work (read: expensive). I find our engine make nice wet stuff at .1% or .2%, and we generally use it for any interior op.

            And the obvious note that does sometimes need repeating is not to mix the two if you are running higher percentages. That is just pouring money onto the fire and washing it off again.
            Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!



            • #7
              How is it going, I need to see that truck,, Have the switch in the on postion, so if it fails it fails on. Let the officer decide if it should not be used, I think you will find out you will like it for just about everything.


              • #8
                We use class A on just about all structure fires. We have had good success with the use on round hay bail fires with the class A as well. Our first real experience was a house with heavy fire to the outside walls and porches. We used a 1-3/4" hand line and a 2-1/2" line attached to a blitz-fire monitor. Both lines were flowing foam. Extremely fast knockdown. We have had numerous successes since. When you talk about the expense of the foam, we have to haul much of the water we use for fire suppression. The price of foam compared to fuel makes the foam more attractive to our department.


                • #9
                  We have one of Darley's first Class A compressed foam systems on our newest engine. We got it 10 years ago right when Darley was getting into the business of selling CAFS.

                  We ran tests and this is what we found.

                  1. CAFS does not have the knock down power of plain water. The steam conversion isn't like water simply because there is less of it.

                  2. It works great with overhaul and exposure protection. Nothing beats it.

                  Moral of the story is we use plain water for initial knockdown, then switch to foam.
                  Jason Knecht
                  Township Fire Dept., Inc.
                  Eau Claire, WI

                  IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
                  EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!


                  • #10
                    Just to clarify: CAFS and using class A foam is completely different. At .2% there is nearly as much water as without so the knockdown power is as efficient.
                    Quite interesting, yours may be the first I've heard that didn't see success with CAFS on intial attack.


                    • #11

                      Give me a call I would love for you to come down and look at our new engine.

                      I would value your opinion.

                      Crazy, but that's how it goes
                      Millions of people living as foes
                      Maybe it's not too late
                      To learn how to love, and forget how to hate


                      • #12
                        We use class A foam on most everything we put water on...Vehicles, dumpsters, trash, etc. We use it on structures as well. 0.2% - 0.5% on initial interior attack, and at times as much as 1.0% during overhaul. It does tend to get a little sudsy, but it puts out a lot of fire too.

                        Yes, it will cause sheetrock to saturate faster, but sometimes that is not always a bad thing.

                        The benefits we see with its use far outweigh the cost of the foam, or using just plain water.

                        Fire Lieutenant/E.M.T.
                        IAFF Local 2339
                        K of C 4th Degree
                        "LEATHER FOREVER"
                        Member I.A.C.O.J.
                        "Fir na tine"


                        • #13
                          Our experience with CAFS has all been positive. It's dry around here (no surface water), and the distances are long (we have over 1,000 sq. miles of initial response), so CAFS is a life/building saver.

                          Phoenix FD is ordering CAFS on all their new equipment, why not give them a call and see how they use it?


                          • #14
                            We have a CAFS truck and it works great. We use foam on pretty much everything. Myself and a few of my ff's took a foam class a few months ago and the instructor said his fd sold their tanker do to the reason of being such big foam believers.You never know when things will go wrong so I don't think we'll be selling our tankers any time soon. Thats sorta crazy! BE SAFE


                            • #15
                              regarding the cost argument against foam, can the FD bill the insurance company for the foam used?
                              So you call this your free country
                              Tell me why it costs so much to live


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