1. #1
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    Question CAFS or good ol' H2O?

    I've heard some firefighters complain that using a CAFS line on the initial attack subjects them to higher levels of heat than what they would experience with a fog line. Some officers request a regular water line for initial attack then switch to foam for mop up. What do you think? CAFS line or fog stream for an initial attack?

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    Wink

    Phxfyr, I not a supporter of CAFS for interior attack, but there has been more than a few articles in trade magazines claiming how well it works. I do recall one article talked about the initial heat level dropping but it took longer overall for the temperature to cool down than with plain water. I don't know why (I've come to the conclusion its not a exact science anyway). We have CAFS on a brush truck and we have NEVER used the air compressor in the 10+ years we've had the truck. It is unrealiable even when working however, we do use the class A foam solution (non-aspirated nozzle) and this works well to break surface tension of the water for vegetation fires. We do not use Class A foam on any of are structure engines (unless we were to batch mix).

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    Larry,<br />Just curious?

    Is Boston using CAFS?

    The last time I was out there they were not but we did not go to every firehouse either.

    What are your thoughts from LA County's testing last year? I know they use it but the aritcle published in Fire CHief Mag stated something like..High Heat was still in the ceiling areas after attack...Reaction was very heavy....

    Not looking to fight with you Larry, just curious as to what you think.

    For the record! CAFS does have its applications!
    Kirk Allen
    First Strike Technologies, Inc

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    It is my opinion that foam of any sort should not be "counted" upon to do more than just plain water. There are two exceptions: flammable liquids, and overhaul.

  5. #5
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    Hi all.

    To “phxfyr”: Where did you hear that CAFS when used on the initial attack line subjects firefighters to higher levels of heat than compared to a fog line? The only conclusion I can draw from your statement is that you are listening to people who are not very knowledgeable on the use of and application of CAFS. CAFS absorbs heat far faster than “water” or “fog”. In the Salem test the results showed how much better CAFS is than water or water and class “A” foam together. As a firefighter who uses CAFS on all types of fires, and has been on the nozzle many a times with CAFS and years ago with plain water, CAFS is far more superior compared to plain water.

    To better understand this, you must realize that CAFS makes water more efficient, IT DOES NOT REPLACE WATER! By injecting air into the foam solution, tiny uniformed bubbles are formed to insulate the water until it reaches the burning material. The class “A” foam then aids the water to penetrated and suppress the fire. The key word here is “WATER”. CAFS also works very well as an exposure protection line, by applying a “dryer” foam that sticks to the surface.

    Remember that water is still being used to extinguish the fire. Most of the issues or problems are from operator errors on the behalf of the pump operator. Some department will purchase a CAFS unit and put it into service without learning about or training with it. Training, training and more training is the key. Having a CAFS unit in the firehouse does not extinguish the fires. Basic tactics don’t change when using CAFS. It still takes firefighters to extinguish fires and CAFS is another tool in the toolbox that makes our job a little bit easier. You still have to follow 2 in 2 out, ventilate, search, use a FAST team and do accountability. Oh, and be educated on how CAFS works and how to use it to your advantage.

    To chiefjay4: You really need a foam class.

    BE SAFE!<br />"Got Foam"

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    We have CAFS on our new engine, but our wonderful leaders haven't trained us on it, and still insist on rolling out ladder truck first on intown fires. mind boggling, 455,000 dollars down the drain =) gotta love cheifs
    This is your brain... Pierce
    This is your brain on drugs... E-One

  7. #7
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    If you can afford it CAFS has it's place. The only problem I have identified with it is at times steam conversion is a good thing, with CAFS you have none.....

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    CAF definetely knocks and cools the room down faster. One theory on why the temperature may stay up a for a little while with foam? After the foam extinguishes and cools the fire, it stays on the object, where as water absorbs the heat and runs down the object carrying away the heat. But if there is (not known if true) more heat left after knockdown with foam, it would be a very minimal difference.

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    Elkhound writes..........'If you can afford it CAFS has it's place. The only problem I have identified with it is at times steam conversion is a good thing, with CAFS you have none.....

    I agree that steam conversion can be a very useful tool if used correctly during interior firefighting applications. However, also taking note of Larry's earlier points on bubble insulation, are you guys saying that CAFS will not support water droplet evaporation in the fire gases........??? ie; the droplets will pass right through the gases to strike hot surfaces or the fire source itself?

    If that's the case, CAFS is only used in straight stream for interior attack right? Also, if CAFS is used in fog pattern (I would imagine) then even MORE steam is created than with plain water as all the droplets are evaporating on surface contact?

    <img src="confused.gif" border="0">

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    Phxfire~
    Again, good to see a brother online (is than you J.D.?). I don't prefer CAFS for initial attack; with the air in the line it becomes a lot softer and there seems to be a better chance of hose kink (has been a problem sometimes resulting in little or no water pressure). Have any one elso ever experienced that? CAFS is an amazing thing, dont get me wrong, and has many valuable uses. But for initial attack I prefer what the brother's have used for generations~ worked for them.
    Maybe I'm old fashioned but good ol' water for me, please, engineer JD!
    try it you'll like it

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    ....with the air in the line it becomes a lot softer and there seems to be a better chance of hose kink (has been a problem sometimes resulting in little or no water pressure).

    This has got to be operator error. with a wet CAF lines for structure attack you've got a line with 60 to 90 gpm of water flowing through it. You can't possibly kink it. We can tie over hand knots inthe line at those flows, so how do you kink a properly supplied line with the air on? How would you kink a 95 gpm water line?

    .... Have any one elso ever experienced that?

    Not in 7 years of constant use fleet wide.

    ...But for initial attack I prefer what the brother's have used for generations~ worked for them.

    Me too if you can't figure out how to get water pressure out of a hose line. I talked with Bruno about PFD CAFS use and he says you all rarely turn it on. The system is too complex and no one has figured out how to make it work quiickly. When we engage our pump all the lines are ready to make CAFS without any operator adjustment Simply yank open the spigot for the line and it is properly set CAFS. Be it 1", 1 3/4", 2 1/2" deck gun or ladder pipe.

    I think if you make something hard enough to operate you'll eventually stop using it or get someone hurt.

    ...The only problem I have identified with it is at times steam conversion is a good thing, with CAFS you have none.....

    Steam conversionis exactly how CAFS works. That is why it cools a room 4 times faster than water and twice as fast as Class A foam. More water surface exposed to absorb heat, which is exactly the reason the people called the FD.

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  13. #13
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    Default CAFS?

    One of the companies that we run with uses CAFS. I
    have nothing but praises for the CAFS. I have seen
    heavy fire loads knocked down very quickly with a
    CAFS line deployed first. My opinion is CAFS is
    a good alternative, but proper training is needed
    to be be affective of course


    My opinion is exactly that mine-I do not speak
    in behalf of my company

  14. #14
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    Angry

    Well it looks to me that someone need to do some real resurch in this area because everyone is saying that studies show and then saying the other guy is wrong can we get some people to do realy studies and give us some good data. I don't want the makers of CAFS data that is bull you think they will publish stuff that makes them look bad? Lets get some good data out there so that we can know when we buy stuff that this works well here and on in this situation. and that is all that I have to say about that.
    Jesse

  15. #15
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    In my dept we use H2O on initial attack and use foam when we are worried about rekindle, examples being brush fires or a situation were we want to be sure its out and not back on scene in a few hrs for a relight.
    Member IACOJ & IACOJ EMS Bureau
    New England FOOL
    "LEATHER FOREVER"
    As always these are strictly my own opinions and views

  16. #16
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    Why not use foam or CAFS on an attack line?????

    It makes the water more effective, faster knock down times, less danger to FF's, less water used.

    I run on a small township FD. No water but what we carry to the fire. We have been using class A foam for 10 years on our attack lines. We can not wait to get our new pumper with CAFS.

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    I would surely hate to ruin this thread with too heavy a dose of old school mentality, but IMHO nothing absorbs heat like water. The more the better, NOT little air bubbles with water around it. The purpose of an aggressive interior attack is to get water to the seat. I will admit readily that I have not had the opportunity to use the new caf system on an interior attack, we are not equipped to do so, but we were for the last 12 years equipped with class A foam on board. We used this several times on interior attack and saw nothing to show that foam on an interior attack is any more efficient than a fog nozzle. Class A foam is a godsend for exposures, shake shingle wood roofs, and deep seated smouldering type fires. But anyone that can prove to me that a caf system nozzle in place of an automatic fog nozzle, or my personal preference a smooth bore nozzle is more efficient for putting out an interior fire in free burning phase is welcome to try. But in my own simplistic way of looking at things, and let's not forget that this isn't rocket science. You have to have water to absorb heat, you need lots of water to penetrate a heavily involved fire. Yes a fog nozzle stirs up a little heat, but we're inside a burning building for gods sake,, suck it up a little.

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    Lightbulb CAFS

    Time for some Science on this issue. Publish a duplicatable
    test with tight controls and measureable results. There is
    research money for all kinds of less important studies. The
    NFA could do this if they could keep an open mind

  19. #19
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    We're in the same boat as rcw5303--we're a little rural volunteer department with no water but what we carry to the fire. We've used Class A foam with great success--but not yet on a structure fire. We also use good ol' Dawn dishsoap in our brush trucks to break surface tension on grass/brush fires.

    We're seriously looking into purchasing a CAFS unit, given the disadvantages that we have stacked against us--low manpower, delayed response, and limited water supply.

    How do CAF and straight water stack up with regards to property damage? Any significant difference?
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  20. #20
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    Default property damage?

    Fire goes out quicker so there is less damage. The .2%
    to .5% soap does not seem to show up..

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    I'M STILL A GOOD OLD H20 PERSON WATER IS YOUR BEST WAY TO CONTROL THE HEAT CAF SYSTEM IS THE TOTAL WAY FOR MOP UP BY THAT TIME THE HEAT FACTOR HAS BEEN REDUCED A GREAT DEAL
    THANK YOU VICTOR ACCURSO SR

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    Talking CAFS vs H2O

    It's still the H2O that controls the fire. The CAFS just keeps it from running down the walls, across the floor and out the door. The water has a better chance to cool becouse it is kept in the fire area longer. And that is the efficiency secret of CAFS, the soap doesn't put out the fire, WATER does.

  23. #23
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    In the early 1900's chemical fire trucks were the new rage. You could get water on the fire faster, and had better knockdown times. Are chemical trucks still used? No. It was found that the chemical trucks weren't any better, they just got water on the fire faster than steam pumpers. CAFS may be great for some people, but I worked as a paid chauffer for a volunteer fire department. Our new piece of apparatus was a Darley CAFS pumper. The perfect mixture was unachievable, and you spent most of the time playing with the controls instead of dealing with other problems. In the time I was there, one fire that we had a quick knockdown time was attributed to the CAFS. The chiefs were so quick to state that it was the CAFS that put the trailer fire out so quick. They did not stop to think that five guys in a pumper three minutes from the fire may have been the reason for a quick knockdown. When St. Louis was designed there new quints, they thought about foam systems. Are all of their quints CAFS? No. Why? I mean CAFS is so great, isn't it? They did a study in actual fires and found foam was no better than water. The difference was the cost of the foam. For those departments out there looking at CAFS, save you money and get better training. Train. Train your people and improve your response times. That will be cheaper than adding some new gadget to your next truck
    These are my opinions and not necessarily the views of my employer.

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    "Our new piece of apparatus was a Darley CAFS pumper. The perfect mixture was unachievable, and you spent most of the time playing with the controls instead of dealing with other problems."

    Gee, we have 7 of the same rigs. Everything is pre-set. One switch is thrown in the cab, we open the discharge and that is it. PERFECT CAFS 100% of the time. No playing with controls, no issues of mixture, ever in 8 years.

    Poor specs shouldn't be the reason not to use CAFS! Sounds like you need a lesson how to use your rigs correctly or redesign the layout you authorized the builder to put on the rig. If you are telling me you paid for a rig and it never worked that is a different story, however, I’d be damn careful not to use the manufacturers name and slander them publicly if that is not the case and you cannot support it 9 ways to Sunday. Why would you go on a public board and say look how stupid our firefighters are?

    "When St. Louis was designed there new quints, they thought about foam systems. Are all of their quints CAFS? No. Why? I mean CAFS is so great, isn't it? They did a study in actual fires and found foam was no better than water."

    St Louis never ever used CAFS on any structure fires. They said Class A didn't speed things. However their is a whole body of evidence, Boston and LA County and many others to the contrary. Of course the later is scientific. Could it be CAFS would reduce tank capacity on a 75 foot quint? YES! In a fully hydranted environment, it was a trade off they made. As far as my conversations with the chiefs CAFS was never considered just Class A foam.

    If every time someone in the fire service couldn’t figure out how to use their equipment they simply got rid of it we’d be using buckets, only buckets.

    "For those departments out there looking at CAFS, save you money and get better training. Train. Train your people and improve your response times. That will be cheaper than adding some new gadget to your next truck"

    NFPA is quite clear there is very little difference made in fire loss based upon response time. Notification time is the key. That is done with smoke detectors wired to central alarms centers. Is that what you mean? Sounds to me, you can't even figure out how to operate you own fire truck, so the advice for better training may very well apply to you, but like LA County, Phoenix and Houston all of our rigs now and in the future will be only CAFS. Why? It isproven to work better than water, easier on the end users, less damage, better chance of survival for the people we protect. There is not dispute on those facts.

  25. #25
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    Question

    After reading the Fire Chief mag article from July 2001, the one thing that strikes me is the comment that large amounts of steam are developed. Isn't this a problem with occupied structures, or possibly occupied structures? The straight or solid bore stream used for an interior attack has been my method of choice when ever there are occupants (including us!) or search in progress. Please comment on this aspect of CAFS for interior strucutral firefighting. I am certain that CAFS can be an effective tool for firefighting, but not so certain about INTERIOR initial attacks in occupied homes. If the steam developed is largely increased, it would appear to be a problem. The LA tests seemed to be EXTERIOR tests, and no mention of the movement of scalding steam throughtout the building in regards to possible trapped occupants.

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