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    Default How Does Foam Factor in NFPA Min. Water Supply?

    Mods, feel free to move this if it's better in another sub-forum.

    I'm in the insurance business (but not a salesman, thank you very much). I have a question about rural water supplies. We regularly use the formula at the heart of NFPA 1142 to calculate if hauled and/or standing water sources are sufficient for a particular house. What I can't find in 1142 is any reference to firefighting foams and their impact on the minimum water supply requirements. Obviously in the real world, a CAFS system is going to extend the utility of each gallon of water, but how is that accounted for on paper? I'm wondering if there's another NFPA document or another trusted source that deals with this.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Not to be a smarta**, but have you called ISO?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Not to be a smarta**, but have you called ISO?
    You mean to determine the protection class? Yeah, we use the ISO database to get the protection class for each fire district, but I deal in multi-million dollar homes, where the underwriting staff cares a whole lot about the specifics, so we get way more detailed than just listing an ISO rating. I describe the amount of water brought by each responding company, I'm just looking for documentation on the foam thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vitamaltz View Post
    Mods, feel free to move this if it's better in another sub-forum.

    I'm in the insurance business (but not a salesman, thank you very much). I have a question about rural water supplies. We regularly use the formula at the heart of NFPA 1142 to calculate if hauled and/or standing water sources are sufficient for a particular house. What I can't find in 1142 is any reference to firefighting foams and their impact on the minimum water supply requirements. Obviously in the real world, a CAFS system is going to extend the utility of each gallon of water, but how is that accounted for on paper? I'm wondering if there's another NFPA document or another trusted source that deals with this.

    Thanks in advance.
    As GTRider245 notes, ISO may give credit for the use of CAFS or foam, but my understanding is that is limited to States that have specifically negotiated these with ISO for adjustment in the rating schedule. We wouldn't factor foam into minimum fire flow calculations for target hazards or for determining minimum water supply for a training burn, as there is little science proving any factors. While foam and CAFs may maximize the potential of water, the fire flow formulas are based on water flow. Any adjustment factor could be as easily thrown off in poor tactics or an equipment malfunction. Foam ops are more complex, require more equipment and are more prone to failure than straight water. Do FD's use them daily with success? Absolutely, but likely not enough to develop a nationwide data set worth changing tried and true numbers.

    As I said, ISO may credit some for foam or CAFs, but it would then be part of the FD's rating so it likely wouldn't be counted twice in rating insurance risks.

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    Thanks for the reply. Your take on it is basically the same as my assumption, I guess: foam helps but not in any quantifiable way that you can take to the bank (or the underwriter's office, in this case). I don't want to close off the discussion if anyone else has anything to add.

    An example scenario for this situation is where the NFPA 1142 water supply requirement for a certain home is 9,000 gallons. The hypothetical responding companies bring 8,800 gallons and have a few apparatus equipped with some kind of inline foam system. Common sense tells me they have effectively met the intention of the requirement without actually bringing the full amount of water. I wish there was a way to quantify that, though.

    Unfortunately, the ISO ratings don't give us everything we need to know for the kind of analysis we're doing.

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    Funny thing about fire,it DOESN'T read books. Let out of it's container the life mission of fire is to DESTROY something,in this case buildings. Depending on water composition in the area(hard/soft)foams may have varying effects. And while test studies in labs show the value of foam,once again fire isn't reading(or responding to) the studies. There are SO many factors that can influence the foams effectiveness(Lines,nozzles,mixing equipment) that it will be very difficult to quantify the results. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Funny thing about fire,it DOESN'T read books. T.C.
    T.C., that further backs up my suspicion that there's no real way to quantify this. Even the minimum water supply formula itself seems like a shot in the dark at actual fire flow needs. The problem is that the insurance business is so full of data that when it attempts to predict what might happen in a structure fire, we end up with a square peg/round hole situation. I'll continue to consider that foam helps, but I'll resign myself to not putting a number on how much it helps.

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    I have GOOD news! With the PROPER size installation tool(Hammer) that IS possible,hehe T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vitamaltz View Post
    T.C., that further backs up my suspicion that there's no real way to quantify this. Even the minimum water supply formula itself seems like a shot in the dark at actual fire flow needs. The problem is that the insurance business is so full of data that when it attempts to predict what might happen in a structure fire, we end up with a square peg/round hole situation. I'll continue to consider that foam helps, but I'll resign myself to not putting a number on how much it helps.
    I'm a bit confused. Since ISO is providing the data for the district, what is wrong with using that data? ISO evaluates the water supply against the NFF when they classify the department. If ISO defines a department in PPC6, for instance, it is likely the department is meeting the NFF for a typical single family residence.

    As part of our preplans, we know the NFF for most situations in advance of the operation. If we know the NFF is 500gpm, we are not only going to go with 500gpm, we very likely will ramp up for much more initially. We adjust the tactics to the situation to achieve desired result, extinguishment as early as possible.

    Our preplans do not calculate the use of foam. The use of foam is a tactical function in addition to the use of water. In some instances, foam is not desirable, where in other situations foam is required. It is not likely that any foam calculation would be useful as applied to everything. I have seen no data that provides us guidance for a broadbrush approach, despite the tactical advantages in some applications.

    Recognizing that our operational capability may not be the same as any other subject district, the results could vary. Limited water supplies, or better stated, limited water delivery systems do without a doubt impact your tactics. But that is very much the purpose behind the ISO FSRS and PPC.

    Most fire departments that have any rating below 9 are always actively pursueing to improve their capabilities. I'll admit that some arrive at a PPC they are satisfied with and resign to coasting. But the PPC is what it is, although it may not be all there is.

    -----------------------------------------

    The part I am confused on goes to this: Are you trying to rate up, rate down, or verify the established PPC?

    If you are attempting to 'rate up' thus saving homeowners every dime possible, then I applaude you since that is very rare in your industry.

    If you are attempting to rate down, why?

    If you are trying to double check ISO, again, Why?

    --------------------

    Recently, I received a call from a county resident just outside of our municipal border. For the record, the home is 1.3 miles from our nearest station, but is not within our first due response area. However, it is within our automatic-aid area, and we would arrive on scene first. A response to that location would result in about a four minute arrival time.

    The homeowner's insurance company was rating her premium against PPC-10, rather than the County District PPC-5, our our Municipal 3. The justification was that her home is more than 5 miles from the nearest County Fire Station, ignoring the fact that her home was within 500 feet of the nearest hydrant (@ 1800gpm) and 1.3 miles from a staffed station.

    I advised her call her agent and insist that he visit the home to perform a proper evaluation. I also advised that if she was not successful, shop around and find a new agent. I see absolutely no reason that an insurance company should penalize this person because an invisible border exists between her home and our station. Other insurers are rating their customers with our PPC out to five miles from our stations.

    Keep in mind, we are committed to assisting all property owners with their insurance costs. If there was no benefit for property owners based upon the PPC, then fire departments would not have benefitted from taxes, service fees and budgets that have allowed them to increase and improve services. It is how we justify our existance to many folks.

    I would like to know your opinion on this situation...


    And thank you for taking the time to educate yourself with the folks here.

    Paladin
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    The homeowner's insurance company was rating her premium against PPC-10, rather than the County District PPC-5, our our Municipal 3. The justification was that her home is more than 5 miles from the nearest County Fire Station, ignoring the fact that her home was within 500 feet of the nearest hydrant (@ 1800gpm) and 1.3 miles from a staffed station.
    In my experience, this is often a result of laziness on the part of whoever collects the rating data. I had a new insurance carrier almost drop me because, according to their "on-site appraiser" (apparently the same guy who pulled into the driveway, took two pictures of the house without getting out of the car and left) I was over 5 miles from a firehouse.

    The HQ of the fire department that bears my town's name is, in fact, just over 5 miles away. Problem is, I'm in a fire district headquartered in the station less than 0.5 miles from my house... If the "on-site appraiser" had driven in from the other direction, he would have passed it.

    Then again, they never questioned my answer to their item: "How close is your house to the nearest fire hydrant?" Should I have notified them that it's no longer ~50' but closer to 75'? I've moved it since then... Hey, they never stipulated a fire hydrant attached to a water main.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal

    Then again, they never questioned my answer to their item: "How close is your house to the nearest fire hydrant?" Should I have notified them that it's no longer ~50' but closer to 75'? I've moved it since then... Hey, they never stipulated a fire hydrant attached to a water main.
    I have no doubt that it was due to laziness. Someone just didn't want to do his homework and used county data only. It is blantantly unfair.



    But I must respond to your hydrant story....

    In a previous district years ago, we had guys that would put these in their yards.

    We responded to a fire call at a home where one of these was sitting. The arriving crew didn't think twice about the new hydrant that wasn't on the map... they called the Hose-layer to come on in to that hydrant.

    The on-scene guys didn't take the hydrant and began suppression with only the engine water... assuming within a couple of minutes the 2nd engine would establish water supply. Well..... you can guess the rest.



    SOPs now demand that the first due evaluate a hydrant that is not on the map before committing to it. They do not deviate or change the Water Supply Engine from a predefined hydrant under any circumstance, even if a closer hydrant does in fact work but has not been updated on the map; it is merely added to the inventory.

    -----------------------

    The lesson was learned the hard way. You might want to put a note on the hydrant advising the fire guys "This is a non-working prop." This can be nasty business.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    The lesson was learned the hard way. You might want to put a note on the hydrant advising the fire guys "This is a non-working prop." This can be nasty business.
    It shouldn't be an issue anyway. If my house were to catch fire, calling the local FD probably wouldn't be a wise move anyway. I have some remodeling plans for the near future that include residential sprinklers -- they're a much better bet.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal
    I have some remodeling plans for the near future that include residential sprinklers -- they're a much better bet.
    ..Agreed..
    HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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    To what, if any, level does the addition of a home sprinkler unit affect the insurance rating on a home? I think Paladin clearly outlined the hit and miss effect of a possible foam rating. I'm just curious on this query.
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireeaterbob View Post
    To what, if any, level does the addition of a home sprinkler unit affect the insurance rating on a home?
    Many carriers offer a 5-10% premium discount. In a new home, sprinklers can pay for themselves over the life of a typical 30 year mortgage.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fireeaterbob View Post
    To what, if any, level does the addition of a home sprinkler unit affect the insurance rating on a home? I think Paladin clearly outlined the hit and miss effect of a possible foam rating. I'm just curious on this query.
    Structures are rated as to the NFF (Needed Fire Flow) individually by ISO.

    The presence of Sprinklers is calculated into that NFF, and not something the fire department can control. There are several factors involved in the NFF determination; e.g. pressure, coverage, inspections. etc.

    The fire department may or may not benefit from the NFF on these structures.

    Since the department may not have previous knowledge of the presence of sprinklers in a home, they should not make any assumptions as to their response. Even if knowledge of sprinklers is known, the dept should not calculate this into their response.

    Case in point: A department responded to a restuarant fire. The Battalion Officer knew that the building had sprinklers, but that the water had been shut off at that location. Arriving crews were not aware of this until the BC gave them the information. The firefighters used the same tactics as a building without sprinklers.

    As firefighters, we can use the NFF as a guide, but it should not lock us in to a pre-defined mindset. Whether we know the NFF at that location is not as important as having the capacity to recognize what you need, then adjusting to it.
    HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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