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  1. #1
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    Default CAFS System How Reliable

    We are looking to purchase a new Engine. I am trying to talk everyone into looking hard at installing a CAFS system. A few of our members seem to think that foam systems are nothing but trouble and require too much maintenance. I know there are many options for these systems, but any thoughts or input on the reliability and maintenance required would be great. We are looking for class A foam only.


  2. #2
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    Both of ours have very little up keep if any. Never had a problem.
    This space for rent

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    Default Foam Systems

    We have a few different class A foam systems installed on our trucks. We have elkhart brass inline eductors (panel mount), Waterous Aquis, and foampro. Neither one of the elkhart systems work anymore (unfortunately due to lack of maintenance). Most of the people don't know how to use them correctly anyway. They don't run the right pressure, or use the correct gallonage nozzle to match the eductor. As for the aquis, it is Waterous's cheapest direct inject system. It doesn't display flow or total foam or anything fun like that, but it is VERY simple and foolproof. My personal favorite is the Foampro. We run it on 2 of our front line engines, as well as the CAFS truck. I like being able to view all the data it offers. It allows you to see current gpm, total gpm, percent concentrate being applied, and total foam used.
    I did see the new version of the waterous advanus system at an expo recently. It seems pretty neat. It has conductivity sensors of incoming water, as well as exiting foam mixture to accurately make foam. I am however not sure of the cost, and if all those bells and whistles are really necessary.
    If it was up to me, I would choose the foam pro, with a foam level gauge. Most of our trucks don't have foam level gauges, so when the controller is telling you low concentrate, you'd better hurry to refill the tank. If money is an issue, the waterouse aquis has performed well for us.

    Sorry, I should learn to read, didn't see CAFS in the title, just about Class A.
    We use Darley AutoCAFS and have had no problems at all with it. A few neighboring departments have pierce CAFS. To my knowledge, they haven't had any issues. If you are in an area with hydrants, you may want to spec an auto tank fill system. Whatever system you spec, make sure that the factory will provide training for it, because no one knows better than them how it should be setup for operating.
    Last edited by rfdffemtmpo; 04-14-2010 at 09:33 PM. Reason: add more info

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    We have a new engine on order and elected to add CAFS to it. Once our members where educated on CAFS we felt that our department would benefit significantly from the addition of the system.

    In order for your members to make an informed decision on the addition CAFS they need to truely evaluate the systems by having each of them demonstrated for you. The demonstrations need to be done by the pump manufacturer's CAFS instructors not a local apparatus sales representative. Darley, Hale and Waterous all will accomidate your department with these demonstrations including operations and required maintenance. If you are looking at Pierce they utilize their own Hercules CAFS system. Once you have selected a pump/CAFS system you can then look at apparatus builders that will utilize that system. As with pumps not all apparatus manufacturers will use all CAFS systems which may limit your list of builders.

    There is also a wealth of information available on the web regarding CAFS, its benefits and the various CAFS systems available.

  5. #5
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    We have a 2004 engine with a Foam Pro pump coupled to Pierce's Hercules CAFS. You have to do the routine maintenance checks on the system and they are very easy to accomplish. Our major malfunction was actually a training issue as we were not flushing the lines with clean water after use. We have had to change all 4 check valves in the air lines due to the class A foam sitting in the pipe and literally eating them away. Allowed foam and water to backflow into the air system. Got everyone trained on flushing the lines, have not had a problem since.

    Our 2009 quint is only 8 months old, but we have also not had a problem there either. It has the Husky/Hercules system on it.

    You must also pay attention to the brand of foam you purchase. Some brands do not like other brands if mixed together. We always buy Silv-ex, but now we have found out that their newest updated Silv-ex doesn't like to be mixed in with the original formula. Luckily, we found that out before we actually experienced the problem.
    Last edited by PrestoC125; 04-14-2010 at 10:32 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfdffemtmpo View Post
    We have a few different class A foam systems installed on our trucks. We have elkhart brass inline eductors (panel mount), Waterous Aquis, and foampro. ... As for the aquis, it is Waterous's cheapest direct inject system. It doesn't display flow or total foam or anything fun like that, but it is VERY simple and foolproof. ....
    Not correct info. Our Waterous CAFS system has an Aquis 2.5. System works great and no maint. issues at all (and has not been run often enough).

    Aquis 2.5 displays water gpm/water total/foam total/foam % by "scrolling" thru using the right button (green). Unless going very large this pump will do all that is required for a CAFS system.

    Whatever you buy spec the Elkhart ICS controller. GREAT kit. See the other CAFS thread in this page running at the moment.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa View Post
    Not correct info. Our Waterous CAFS system has an Aquis 2.5. System works great and no maint. issues at all (and has not been run often enough).

    Aquis 2.5 displays water gpm/water total/foam total/foam % by "scrolling" thru using the right button (green). Unless going very large this pump will do all that is required for a CAFS system.

    Whatever you buy spec the Elkhart ICS controller. GREAT kit. See the other CAFS thread in this page running at the moment.
    We have the 1.5 Aquis. If you open the link below, and look at the pic, there is no display of any kind. Again, this is the cheap version. It has an on/off button, and a knob to set percentage. There are 2 lights, one for power on/actively injecting, and a red light for low concentrate.
    http://www.waterousco.com/foamSys/aquis.html

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfdffemtmpo View Post
    We have the 1.5 Aquis. If you open the link below, and look at the pic, there is no display of any kind. Again, this is the cheap version. It has an on/off button, and a knob to set percentage. There are 2 lights, one for power on/actively injecting, and a red light for low concentrate.
    http://www.waterousco.com/foamSys/aquis.html
    Counterpart would be the Foampro 1600. Which also doesn't give the info you want. You have to step up to the Foampro 2000 (Competitor is the Aquis 2.5).

  9. #9
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    CAFS is the way to go. We put out 80% of our fires with foam. Its the bees knees.

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    If You are Not specing CAF's then you are building a 1960's fire truck you might as well just worry about color.
    We have Two Waterous Eclipse systems you have to change the filters and oil annually and check your oil levels, you also should make sure they are run up to temperature at least once a month takes 15 minutes.
    I had to clean the strainers once when we got the trucks because of tank shavings, they get checked at the annual service but no issues.
    A lot of the problems that have been associated with Cafs can be traced to OEMs not installing a system according to pump manufactures directions. and yes we had one of those the next truck was a dream because we were much better educated and worked with the OEM and pump manufacture through the build. on the first Engine we were not as well educated and the Dealer had no clue on Cafs and the big name OEM was no better, the second truck was by another company and was in service a soon as we got it.
    Direct tank fill of some sort is a must. Training in use and on the nozzle under live fire conditions and in maintenance.
    So what do you want in a new building a 1960 fire truck or a 2010 fire truck?

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    Quote Originally Posted by captaincvfd View Post
    If You are Not specing CAF's then you are building a 1960's fire truck you might as well just worry about color.
    We have Two Waterous Eclipse systems you have to change the filters and oil annually and check your oil levels, you also should make sure they are run up to temperature at least once a month takes 15 minutes.
    I had to clean the strainers once when we got the trucks because of tank shavings, they get checked at the annual service but no issues.
    A lot of the problems that have been associated with Cafs can be traced to OEMs not installing a system according to pump manufactures directions. and yes we had one of those the next truck was a dream because we were much better educated and worked with the OEM and pump manufacture through the build. on the first Engine we were not as well educated and the Dealer had no clue on Cafs and the big name OEM was no better, the second truck was by another company and was in service a soon as we got it.
    Direct tank fill of some sort is a must. Training in use and on the nozzle under live fire conditions and in maintenance.
    So what do you want in a new building a 1960 fire truck or a 2010 fire truck?
    Rich at Waterous Arizona suggested to me that the compressor be run and brought up to temperature at least once a week. You don't have to flow foam, just make air. Fifteen minutes, as you state, is usually enough. Flowing water through the oil cooler strainer periodically is also important. Don't need much, just enough to be sure that the strainer isn't clogged.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by captaincvfd View Post
    If You are Not specing CAF's then you are building a 1960's fire truck you might as well just worry about color.
    Care to qualify that statement?
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Care to qualify that statement?
    Or if you're buying fire trucks w/ CAFS instead of FIT-5 launchers you're stuck in the last century!

    I've heard of many FD's with problems with their CAFS equipment, and while 99% may be attributed to lack of proper training and maintenance, the fact is that many of us do not need more complex systems to do the job. The over reliance on electronics is going to begin to show as future firefighters will have no trouble shooting skills or the equipment won't allow for it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by captaincvfd View Post
    If You are Not specing CAF's then you are building a 1960's fire truck you might as well just worry about color.
    We have Two Waterous Eclipse systems you have to change the filters and oil annually and check your oil levels, you also should make sure they are run up to temperature at least once a month takes 15 minutes.
    I had to clean the strainers once when we got the trucks because of tank shavings, they get checked at the annual service but no issues.
    A lot of the problems that have been associated with Cafs can be traced to OEMs not installing a system according to pump manufactures directions. and yes we had one of those the next truck was a dream because we were much better educated and worked with the OEM and pump manufacture through the build. on the first Engine we were not as well educated and the Dealer had no clue on Cafs and the big name OEM was no better, the second truck was by another company and was in service a soon as we got it.
    Direct tank fill of some sort is a must. Training in use and on the nozzle under live fire conditions and in maintenance.
    So what do you want in a new building a 1960 fire truck or a 2010 fire truck?
    I've seen some Good systems(Cafs)and I've seen **** systems too. I'll stick to my foolproof 60's technology. I've seen some fires go WAY bad with Cafs,not so much with soap and water. It's all the coming rage but it will still be awhile before we adopt it for financial as well as operational issues. If it works good for you and you love it,GREAT. I'm going to watch for a while longer 'til the price comes down. T.C.

  15. #15
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    If You are Not specing CAF's then you are building a 1960's fire truck you might as well just worry about color.
    This is complete and utter nonsense, spoken like a used car salesman. Of course CAFS is a useful tool, and works well under many circumstances. It can be problematic to maintain. It is NOT the answer for every department and every apparatus.
    "SYRACUSE - An ISO Class One Fire Department"

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by captaincvfd View Post
    If You are Not specing CAF's then you are building a 1960's fire truck you might as well just worry about color.
    Our around the pump foam system on our 2008 E-One works just fine, thank you very much.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by fyreline View Post
    ..Of course an adz is a useful tool, and works well under many circumstances. It can be problematic to maintain. It is NOT the answer for every department and every apparatus.
    Times change and occassionally we progress.
    Last edited by neiowa; 04-19-2010 at 10:16 PM.

  18. #18
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    Yes, and occasionally we only think we do.
    "SYRACUSE - An ISO Class One Fire Department"

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    200 hundred years of progress impeded by tradition.
    There are bad systems out there and there are departments that do not train.
    cant change that. So if you want to use just water go ahead. If you are not going to train with a system on a regular basis or do your proper maintenance just stick with water
    With CAF's you have less water damage,better penetration better knock downs, less crew fatigue,better visibility, more reach, less chance of rekindle and unlike your fit6 you can reuse it same day even.
    When Departments spend more 500 K on a truck and think that the extra 50 thousand for Cafs or the 300 a year for filters is to much then I guess you don't always get what you pay for. our first unit saved that much in water damage first few times out the door.
    And I am not saying that a well trained well manned department with a good water system needs cafs but we are not all that lucky.

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    I still stand by my response to your original opening comment: "If You are Not specing CAF's then you are building a 1960's fire truck". It was, and remains, patently untrue. Yes, CAFS can be a great tool in the box. Just don't paint with so broad a brush next time. Good luck with your CAFS systems, keep training, and stay safe.
    "SYRACUSE - An ISO Class One Fire Department"

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