TOPIC: FOAM OPERATIONS FOR FIREFIGHTERS
TIME REQUIRED: THREE HOURS
MATERIALS: FOAM NOZZLES, FOAM EDUCTORS, FOAM SOLUTION, HOSE AND APPARATUS (OPTIONAL)
REFERENCES: ESSENTIALS OF FIRE FIGHTING, FOURTH EDITION, IFSTA PUMPING APPARATUS DRIVER/OPERATOR HANDBOOK, FIRST EDITION, IFSTA A FIREFIGHTER’S GUIDE TO FOAM, NATIONAL FOAM HAZARDOUS MATERIALS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS, SECOND EDITION, IFSTA
OBJECTIVE (SPO): 1-1
The individual will demonstrate an understanding of the various types of foam, foam equipment, and foam applications.
FOAM OPERATIONS FOR FIREFIGHTERS
• Foam and Foam Equipment
• Foam Operations
• Foam Application
FOAM OPERATIONS FOR FIREFIGHTERS
SPO 1-1 The individual will demonstrate an understanding of the various types of foam, foam equipment, and foam applications.
EO 1-1 Identify the various types of foam, the characteristics of each, and the equipment required to apply them.
EO 1-2 Identify the items required to make foam.
EO 1-3 Identify the methods of applying foam.
This drill is designed to provide the firefighter and fire officer with some basic knowledge of foam and foam operations. It also provides basic information that the pump operator should know to apply foam using an in-line educator. It is suggested that manufacturer literature be consulted for specific information on the foam solution and foam equipment within the department. The department may want to conclude the lesson with a practical demonstration of their foam equipment and application techniques. At a minimum the foam-making equipment should be reviewed. Training foam can be made by mixing a pint of concentrated liquid dish detergent with five gallons of water. It is assumed that the audience is familiar with how foam prevents ignition or extinguishes a fire.
I. FOAM AND FOAM EQUIPMENT (EO 1-1)
1. Expansion ratio – amount by which foam solution expands when mixed with air. Low expansion
foams have an expansion ratio of about 10:1. Medium expansion foams have an expansion ratio of
between 20:1 and 200:1. High expansion foams have an expansion ratio of between 200:1 and
2. Finished foam – foam solution mixed with air or aerated
3. Foam concentrate – foam in the container before it is mixed with anything
4. Foam eductor – device used to mix water and foam concentrate; also serves as the proportioning
5. Foam nozzle – special nozzle with openings to allow air to be introduced into the foam solution
6. Foam solution – foam concentrate mixed with water
B. Characteristics of an Effective Foam
1. Knockdown speed and flow characteristics – the time required for a foam blanket to spread
across a fuel surface or around an obstacle and wreckage in order to achieve complete
2. Heat or burnback resistance – the ability to resist the destructive effects of heat radiated from any
remaining fire from the liquid’s flammable vapor or any hot metal wreckage or other objects in the
3. Fuel resistant – tolerance and the ability to minimize fuel pick-up so that the foam does not become
saturated and burn
4. Vapor suppression – the vapor-tight blanket produced must be capable of suppressing the
flammable vapors and minimize the risk of reignition
5. Alcohol tolerance – due to alcohol’s affinity to water and because a foam blanket is more than
90% water, foam blankets that are not protected will be destroyed
C. Types of Foam
a. May be used in 3% or 6% mixture
b. Protein based
c. Low expansion
d. Good re-ignition (burn-back) resistance
e. Excellent water retention
f. High heat resistance and stability
g. May be used with fresh or salt water