So an idea was presented by one of our members. Basically when one of our pumpers needs a wetting agent (like class a foam) to just dump a gallon of dawn dish soap into the water tank. It would only be used in situations in which the entire tank could be used, and then thoroughly flushed. IE interface fires in which pumpers are being used along with brush trucks. We tend to have a fair amount of these. So my question here is if anyone has done this before. The theory is that we just need something to reduce the surface tension of the water, and dawn should do the trick well enough to emulate class A foam. Any feedback? My initial response was negative, but as long as the soap doesn't damage the pump it might not be a bad idea.
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Thread: Dawn soap in tank?
05-20-2011, 10:20 PM #1
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05-20-2011, 10:38 PM #2
If I remember correctly, this was done years ago when foam was damn expensive. I don't know about pump damage, but I would bet one of the older, wiser folks on here will weigh in on this, but if I remember correctly it has been done before.
05-20-2011, 10:47 PM #3
We've done it for training.
took 3 seconds:
http://www.firehouse.com/forums/showthread.php?t=82342 (DIY Foam or CAFS)"I was always taught..." Four words impacting fire service education in the most negative of ways. -Bill Carey
05-21-2011, 01:31 AM #4
If you are just looking to "soften" your water a bit so it is easier to do some overhaul or penetrate a bit nicer for brush/grass fires, yes, a dishwashing detergent such as Dawn will do the trick. We used to put a squirt in each pack can, the old aluminum "Indian Cans." It kept the handle nice and lubricated and worked well for penetrating.
However, there is no substitute for real Class A foam. Dawn does not have the firefighting properties that Class A foam has meaning it doesn't last as long and isn't designed to make the shaving cream type thicker foam for exposure protection or making fire lines.
Also, check with your pump manufacturer. Over time it may damage some pump parts and seals depending on what they use. I know in CAFS systems they certainly don't recommend it.Jason Knecht
Altoona Fire Dept.
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05-21-2011, 01:39 AM #5
Works really well in brush trucks on brush and wildland cover fires.
05-21-2011, 01:43 AM #6
Any brand of hand liquid dish washing soap will not harm the pump or seals.
As for CAFS systems, it isn't a good idea.
FM1I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.
Originally Posted by EastKyFF
05-21-2011, 03:29 PM #7
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- Jan 2007
get the antibacterial dish soap and you can use it for flushes
05-21-2011, 05:56 PM #8
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- May 2007
You can buy REAL CL A foam for $60-65 per 5gal pail. Do the math on moms kitchen detergent. It's more expensive to buy the pretend stuff at Kmart.
05-21-2011, 07:34 PM #9
Last time we used dishwashing detergent for foam training, it was more like one bottle of detergent into a five gallon bucket of water. Even using two bottles in a 5 gallon bucket puts the cost at under $10 for five gallons of foam solution. Make sure you mix it well before using.
We got lots of foam out of it. The goal at the time was familiarity with our foam equipment, not extinguishing fires, but a few weeks later we had a grass fire that had gotten into what was left of a collapsed outbuilding and the same basic solution worked well for penetration.
From another thread linked above, SilverCity said they put in 8 oz per 200 gallons, which is like .03% Extending that to putting just under two 24 oz bottles into a 1000 gallon tank, and extrapolating over to the two 24 oz bottles in 5 gallons of water, you'd have to run the eductor at around 4% to get the same mixture at the nozzle (if I got my math right).
The bottom line is that until you get to mixing 13 (24 oz) bottles of dish soap into five gallons of water, you're still cheaper with the dishsoap than with the class A foam (depending on what dish soap you use and how much you spend on it).Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.
Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.
05-21-2011, 08:48 PM #10
05-21-2011, 10:13 PM #11
05-22-2011, 07:55 AM #12
We have used dish soap in our Wildland unit before. Works pretty well actually and there has not been any damage to our pump. However I probably would use Class A Foam for a structure or Vehicle fire if thats what is in you SOP.Do not let the ghosts of our fallen brothers gaze upon you and ask " What have you done to my profession?" FTB DTRT EGH
05-23-2011, 06:40 PM #13
Let me see if I did my math correctly?
5 gallon pail of good quality class A foam "DESIGNED' for firefighting = $70.00 or $14 per gallon, or $0.11 per ounce.
Dawn dishsoap in a 24 ounce bottle is $5.79 = $0.24 per ounce.
We normally run our foam systems at .3% (3 tenths of a percent) injection rate so for every 100 gallons of water we use 38.4 ounces of foam concentrate.
So it costs $4.22 cents to treat 100 gallons of water with actual class A foam concentrate and $9.22 cents to treat 100 gallons of water with dish soap, assuming equal concentrations.
Why not just run actual foam concentrate and in addition to making a better foam (bubbles) you also reap the benefits of actual class A fire fighting foam. It works better as a wetting agent, is designed to be hydrocarbon loving. Also biodegradable and environmentally friendly just to name a few of the long list of benefits. You will have more impressive results ounce for ounce using actual class A foam concentrate as compared to dishsoap.
05-23-2011, 06:48 PM #14
It probably works best if you have a lot of dishes that need cleaned.Robert Kramer
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Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.
05-23-2011, 07:23 PM #15
You cite $0.11 per ounce of firefighting-ready class A foam. No dilution necessary to be eductor-ready.
You cite $0.24 per ounce of dishwashing [/i]concentrate[/i] - but we don't know what the proper dilution would be to make it more or less equivalent to bona fide class A foam (let's just assume that we're just talking about making suds for practice - not its effectiveness as a firefighting agent). If we can dilute the dishsoap 4:1 to make an equivalent eductor-ready solution the effective price drops to $0.06 per ounce, or about half that of class A foam.
That's about one 24 ounce bottle of dishwashing soap per gallon of water, or $5.79 vs $14.00.
Until we can figure out the equivalency, we really can't discuss relative cost.
And while we can agree that actual class A foam is the most desireable, it's apparent that folks have found dishwashing soap to be a viable solution for some applications, besides washing dishes.
MemphisE34a - Have you been to my house?
Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.
Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.
05-23-2011, 07:34 PM #16
Very true regarding dilution of the dishsoap. But I'm focusing more on the actual benefits provided as it pertains to actual fire suppression (not just the creation of bubbles). While we haven't done any measurable scientific studies it has been my experience that ounce per ounce, class A concentrate outperforms dishshoap at actually extinguishing, preventing re-kindle and wetting class A fuels. If just making bubbles is the goal, by all means, use whatever makes the most bubbles for the $. But there is more going on in regard to fire extinguishment than making good bubbles, some of the effectiveness of actual foam concentrate can't be measured by looking only at bubble production, lots of things going on that can't be 'seen'.
05-23-2011, 10:08 PM #17
05-25-2011, 10:44 PM #18
My home town dept used to use Dawn in the tank of the truck, we used 2 bottles 20oz (not sure on size exactly but they were the smaller bottles) in a 750 gallon tank, its just enough to create a film and break that surface tension of water. As stated before it does not create a blanket of foam, and do not expect it to, but it worked great, on brush fires and mop up. It did tear packings out of the Bean High pressure unit if at least 2 tanks of clean water was not run through the truck. If you run any type of detergent through any pump you have to flush it all out, or the seals and packings could be damaged.
05-26-2011, 07:38 PM #19
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- N.W. Iowa
We use Dawn in out grass trucks all the time, works well on grass and brush fires.
05-27-2011, 01:59 AM #20
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- Nov 2007
I am not advocating high pressure but, that Bean pump could really kick some donkey, couldn't it? The fog pattern could darn near create a cloud and the straight stream could cut wood. The 3/4" hose was half the weight of regular 1" booster hose. And, the nozzleman still had a reliable 30 GPM at his disposal.
As for the topic at hand, I sure wish some of the pros from the foam companies would chime in. It would be interesting to hear what they have to say. One thing is certain, if a cheap bottle of dish soap is as effective as class A on wildland fires, we can expect more regulations to prevent its use.
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