Adapting New Technology In Rural Firefighting Operations

Virtually every small-community fire department can benefit from implementing a few of the many technological innovations available in the fire industry. The choices, for example, can range from using online firefighter training programs all the way to...


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Under the same set of conditions, using an engine with a 2,000-gpm pump, the discharge was 1,118 gpm, an increase of 105 gpm, or 10%, over the discharge provided without using the eductor, through draft.

While this was one test, under one set of suction conditions, expect increased performance under more challenging drafting conditions. The cost of the five-inch TurboDraft eductor is advertised at $2,995.

 

Class A foam

The concept is simple. Adding Class A foam concentrate to water doubles the water’s fire suppression effectiveness by forming a foam solution that, when applied to the surface of a Class A fuel, spreads out and wets the surface of the fuel. The solution then penetrates the surface to absorb heat and cool the fuel faster than plain water would. Adding compressed air to Class A foam solution forms a foam bubble blanket that increases the water’s effectiveness by up to five times.

While firefighting foams of various types have existed since the late 1800s, most of them were designed for use on flammable liquids and other Class B fuels. The only foams intended for use on Class A fires were the high-expansion (200 to 1,000:1 expansion rates) types originally developed for fighting fires in coal mines. These foams are best used as smothering agents when they are forced into compartments to displace air. With such high expansion rates, they contain very little water, prohibiting them from performing significant cooling.

Today’s Class A foam technology is completely different from that of the past. Today’s Class A foams not only provide water with wetting properties, but enable it to form bubbles that cling to Class A fuels. This clinging ability holds the water on the fuel surface so that more of it is effectively used for cooling the fuel.

The expense required to get involved with using Class A foam can start from as little as a few hundred dollars for several five-gallon buckets of concentrate. The concentrate can be batch mixed in an apparatus booster tank, or mixed with water by using an in-line eductor that a department may already own.

For more information on Class A foam, go to the A Foam Authority website (found at afoam.org). It is a non-profit trade association organized to promote a focused effort to deliver accurate information about the benefits of Class A foam.

 

Summary

Over the next decade, the primary drivers for small-community fire departments to become involved with and implement new technology will continue to be increased firefighter safety and basic cost/benefit concerns. Only a department can decide what technologies best fit its specific needs and conditions. During the process, departments are urged to keep in mind that new technology requires departmental training and education to be implemented effectively. This article provides ideas for departments to consider when they are ready to evaluate which technologies best fit their needs and budgets. n

 

Dominic Colletti presents “New Technology and Rural Firefighting Operations” at Firehouse Expo 2013, July 23-27 in Baltimore, MD.

 

DOMINIC COLLETTI is the chief training officer and online training manager at the Rural Firefighting Academy. He is a former assistant fire chief and a fire instructor with more than two decades of experience leading courses and seminars on rural firefighting operations. He can be reached at LiveFireTraining.com.