1. #1
    Geno
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post compressed air foam system (CAFS)

    Hi everyone
    My department is in the process of specing out a new pumper with a CAFS on it. I don't know to much about this system. Can anyone give me some advice on the operation of, and a system mfr.? Also some advice on foam tank/water tank size? We have a good hydrant system in our area.

  2. #2
    SmokeEater31
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Geno,
    I just read your inquiry regarding a foam system on a truck.
    I am on the truck committee in our vollie department, and we looked at going with a foam system in our new apparatus. We decided that the amount of the time that we needed the foam was not worth the expense. Then about three weeks ago we were dispatched on a Tanker Accident with leak. We were part of a 6 alarm response to this incident, we took our pumper, and a tanker to the incident. We were in a "duel-response/Mutual aid area" southeast of town, so the first due company arrived at the same time as us. We decided that since the intial response was initiated in that companies district, we would allow them to handle the foaming operations. They have a foam system on thier apparatus, they however, do not use it very often. (Then again, how many companies actually USE foam FREQUENTLY, right?) ANYWAY, they opted to be the foam crew while we went into a back-up/RIT posistion. Our apparatus does not have a system, we use a foam inductor, and have NEVER had a lick of problems with it. ANYWAY, the first due pumper, set up and tried to get foam to thier crew so that they could foam the leaking fuel to prevent a flare up. Well, to make a longer story long, they could not get thier system to work. We quickly shifted operations and put our inductor into service, and the first due company then went into the back-up posistion. We foamed the operation even after the HAZMAT company responded from Omaha.
    WEll, we had heard in the past that many pumpers have had problems without much use of the system that the foam can gel. Smeal is located 45 miles away from us and we speak with the reps quite often, they say that the foam tanks are airtight and there should be no problem with the foam "gelling". WEll, we are now more glad that we went away from the system, mostly because we DO NOT USE IT ENOUGH.
    I am sure there are companies out there that have GREAT success with the system, however, I just figured I would give you something else to consider when you go back to the committee. I look forward to hearing how it works out for you.

    Your brother in the service,
    Rob

  3. #3
    LHS*
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    CAFs systems don't use foam that gels, a foam eductor does not do what CAFS does. One is primarily for structure firefighting and the other is for flammable liquids.

  4. #4
    Capt. Lou
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hi Geno, Let me start by saying that SmokeEater31 (the person who told the "tanker foam" story) does not understand or have any clue what CAFS is or what foams are. So please ignore him.

    CAFS is an advatage in many ways. It is primarily used with class "A" foam. It is used on the types of structural fires we fight on a very regular basis. If you go to "Questions about CAFS" under the same topic of "apparatis inovations"(page 2), you will see alot of information on CAFS by mayself and others. http://www.firehouse.com/forums/Foru...ML/000350.html

    We've been using it for 3 years now. Love it. It works well. You have to understand it and it is not complicated. Go to the topic I mentioned above and if you have any other questions, just ask.

    Good luck!
    Capt.Lou "Got Foam"

  5. #5
    Geno
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Capt Lou
    That was what I needed. Thanks allot!

    I do have additional questions though.
    -Who are some of the companies that mfr CAFS?
    -Who would you recommend and why?
    -What do you have as far as SOG's with CAFS?
    -Can CAFS be adapted for aerial use? Should it?
    -any other data you could offer?

    thanks again

  6. #6
    mike021
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Pierce has their own system, what type of truck are you buying? We are getting a CAFS on our new Pierce engine.

    ------------------
    Norwood Fire Co. No. 1
    http://www.nfco1.freeservers.com

  7. #7
    N2DFire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The Waterous Company (maker of Waterous pumps no less) has their own CAFS system (I belive they purchased Pnuemax but I could be wrong here).

    Anyway - the bottom line is any builder who can/will build with a Waterous pump should be able to supply you with a complete CAFS system.

    Check out http://www.waterousco.com for a better look.

    Take Care - Stay Safe
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic


  8. #8
    Stuart Cobb
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Check out www.wsdarley.com

    They have been manufacturing CAFS for several years now.

    We are spec'ing out a CAFS truck mainly due to limited manpower and non-existent water supplies.

  9. #9
    Stuart Cobb
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Check out www.wsdarley.com

    They have been manufacturing CAFS for several years now.

    We are spec'ing out a CAFS truck mainly due to limited manpower and non-existent water supplies.

  10. #10
    Capt. Lou
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hi Geno,

    Glad the info was helpful. Here are the answers to your questions.
    1. Who are some of the companies that mfr CAFS?
    There are a bunch. Darley, Pneumax, Pierce, Waterous to mention a few.

    2. Who would you recommend and why?
    I would recommend Pneumax and/or Waterous. I would recommend Pneumax because we have their CAFS system on our engine. Their product is time tested and proven, and the "customer service" is great. They just don't sell you a system; youre joining "the family". They are there for training, support and when you call the company you actually speak to a real person. They will also give you assistance prior to going out to bid with regards to making sure you spec out the correct plumbing, trans, etc. and system. The Pneumax system can be added onto most fire pumps and used in conjunction with many of the foam proportioners on the market. Ours is mounted on a Hale 1250, single stage pump and uses a FoamPro 2001 proportioner. I also mentioned Waterous. Waterous has purchased Pneumax recently and you can order an all-inclusive pump/CAFS system from them. They call it the "Eclipse". The nice thing about the Eclipse is that entire CAFS system is mounted to the pump and factory tested and approved by waterous prior to leaving the factory. This means that whoever manufactures your truck has to basically install the pump and plumb to it. The CAFS components are already in place. It is a nice system. We will go with it on our next engine purchase.

    3. What do have as far as SOG's with CAFS?
    Basically it used all the time. If we used water before CAFS we use CAFS on it now. The tactics are a little different, but training and education of all of your firefighters is the key. It is still putting the "white" stuff on the "red" stuff.

    4. Can CAFS be adapted for aerial use? Should it?
    YES and YES. You have to remember that flowing a master stream CAFS line requires a lot of air. When you go to an aerial stream it will be the only CAFS line flowing. This is because it will require all 200 cfms of air for this large discharge. But what a stream, the reach and fire knock down power is incredible. The key is being able to get to the fire.
    5. Any other data?
    If you email directly your phone number or address I have more info on CAFS.

    Aggressive interior attacks are still used. Truck work is still used. Just having CAFS on the foreground does not put out the fire. CAFS puts less strain on firefighters, puts the fire out and keeps it out, causes less property damage and elongates your water supply. It simply makes water better!

    Hope this hasn't confused you.

    Good Luck!
    Capt Lou

  11. #11
    Geno
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    mike021
    We are spec'ing waterous CAFS/pump on an ALF chassis. But I will look at Pierce. We are big supporters of Pierce. How well has your new Pierce CAFS working?

    n2dfire
    Good info on the waterous web site. They even offer there complete product line on a cd. Handy to have since everything we own is Waterous. It looks like they did buy Pnuemax. Waterous mentions them on there website.

    Capt. Lou
    Thanks again for the additional info. I will e-mail you.

    Anyone else with additional info on CAFS please join-in:

    -Mfr's you would recommend.
    -Or important mfr's you would NOT.
    -any good options on mfr has the others don't.
    -What do you use it for.
    -anything other opinions about CAFS


  12. #12
    ADSN/WFLD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question

    I have a question for current CAFS users. For routine structural firefighting does CAFS work that much better than plain water based on the extra money involved.
    If you remember quick water, or slippery water it provided lower friction loss and broke up the surface tension of water to allow it to better absorb into many materials. While it did work, it didn't work well enough to justify the added expense.
    Just curious about your thoughts about CAFS.

  13. #13
    Capt. Lou
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hi ADSN/WFLD,

    To try and answer your question regarding cost vs benifit, the benifits far outway the cost of the CAFS equipment and the operation of CAFS. Go to the article that was publishied in Firehouse Magizine in there archive section. http://www.firehouse.com/magazine/ar...mber/foam.html It explains CAFS and give some specific examples of incidents it was used at. There are articles out there.

    I remember "wet water" and the like. CAFS is nothing like it. It is a complete system that uses water, air and a small amount of class "A" foam. CAFS is a cost effective enhancement of water that benifits the firefighters and the public we servre.

    Hope this helps.

    Capt Lou

  14. #14
    ADSN/WFLD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    How much does the actual foam concentrate cost and how much is used per gallon during supression? Also what is the average tank size found on rigs?

  15. #15
    Capt. Lou
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hi ADSN/WFLD,

    To answer your questions:

    1. How much does the actual foam concentrate cost and how much is used per gallon during suppression?

    We are using Phos-chek Class A foam made by Monsanto. I pay $85.00 per 5 gallon pail, or $17.00 per gallon. When doing a CAFS operation (suppression operation) we are injecting class A foam into the system at .3% per 100 gallons of water. This works out to be $5.10 per 100 gallons of CAFS product that is flowed. It sounds like a lot of money, but you must look at the overall picture. Remember, your attack line is flowing between 60 and 70 gpm, not 125 gpm like most fog nozzles do. You can flow for 7 plus minutes before running out of water. At 125 gpm you will only be able to flow for 4 minutes. CAFS will extinguish a fire quicker because the water is more efficient, therby reducing water damage to the property. Also firefigher fatigue is reduced because the attack line in more than 50% lighter in wieght. If you can extinguish the fire quicker, its less operating cost for the department. There are many more benifits, to many to list. But there is an overall savings. Our experience is that most room and contents fire are being extinguished with less than 500 gallons of tank water.

    If we were to empty a 500 gallon booster tank during a CAFS operation, we would use a total of 1.5 gallons of Class A foam OR $25.50 worth of Class A foam.

    2. Also what is the average tank size found on rigs?

    Im assuming you are referring to the size of the foam tank. We are using a 20 gallon foam tank. Based on the foam usage rate of 38.4 ounces per 100 gallons of water, a 20 gallon foam supply will allow you make 6,666.66 gallons of CAFS product before you had to refill the foam tank. Thats a lot of CAFS! As far as a booster tank size, we have a 600 gallon tank.

    Hope this answers your questions.

    Good Luck,

    Capt. Lou




    [This message has been edited by Capt. Lou (edited 04-07-2001).]

  16. #16
    SBrooks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    If you have to haul your own water around with you everywhere you go, there's no reason not to go to CAFS. There may be no reason not to go with CAFS for any service, but I haven't read of it yet.

    By my math: 500 gallons * 0.3% = 1.5 gallons
    1.5 gallons @ $17 ea = $25.50


  17. #17
    Geno
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Capt Lou
    I have yet another question...Isn't the foam a reimbursable expense that can be charged to the insurance companies? As is absorbent material (ie Zep-o-zorb).

    If so...foam costs should not be an issue.

  18. #18
    Capt. Lou
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hi SBroocks,

    I think you ought to educate yourself a little bit more on CAFS and/or Class "A" foam before you comment on it.

    I know of no fire department that responds to an incident (fire) without bringing water with them.
    Take care,

    Capt. Lou

  19. #19
    mike021
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Lou,
    We have not received our truck yet =( Patiently awaiting it's arrival in June. Let you know then. Later!

    ------------------
    Norwood Fire Co. No. 1
    http://www.nfco1.freeservers.com

  20. #20
    Carpandean
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    CAFS is an effective system, however, there are some things to be careful of. CAFS works great for what it was designed for: Brush Fire Fighting. You can saturate a very large area with very little water, come back in a few hours and it will still be there. It does also work well for exposure protection at structural fires. The problem comes with interior attacks. Let's go back to Essentials. What do you have to do to fight a fire -- eliminate one leg of the fire triangle (or tetrahedron for the new age fireman); heat, fuel, oxygen and chemical chain reaction. Compressed air does not eliminate any of these and neither does foam. Only water eliminates heat. So, your CAFS line flowing 70 GPM has that much less water to absorb heat. Anyone use the proven tactic of putting quick burst of water to the ceiling when entering a room that's close to flashing in order to cool the superheated gasses? Well, if you CAFS is dry, this tactic is very ineffective. We had a crew near here get burned because their CAFS was set on dry, so they could not cool them room as fast as they should have been able to and the room flashed.
    Does this mean that you shouldn't get CAFS if you only fight structural fires? No. It can still be a powerful asset and can make your hoses much easier to handle. Just be careful on checking the controls to make sure that you can't easily leave them in a dry mode. Pneumax require gating back the discharge when the air is on to dry the CAFS, so if it's all the way out, your CAFS is wet. Others have an adjustment that can be left in dry.

  21. #21
    LHS*
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Carpandean

    Why have all of our fires over the last 6 years gone out without incident fighting structure fires only with CAFS?

    Why does all the research show you can in fact attack fires at 50% of the flow rate? Boston proved it as well.

    All fire apparatus manufacturers of CAFS systems have systems designed for STRUCTRE FIRES.

    Once foam is over the fuel no vapor release occurs. Oxygen is not getting to the fuel anymore. So how can you say it is not effecting the other sides of the triangle?

    Why is it we can put out a four room duplex at 20 gpm with CAFS that a 95 gpm stream of water cannot?

    I don't know any department who uses dry CAFS for interior attack. But our 1/2 second Wet blasts will certainly keep a room from flashing over every time. Once the room is down it will not reflash like a room where water was used. In fact it is just about impossible to do a burn to learn with CAFS because you can't get the place to burn over and over again like you can with water.

    //We had a crew near here get burned because their CAFS was set on dry, so they could not cool them room as fast as they should have been able to and the room flashed.

    I've got to ask what the heck does "as they should have been able to mean?" How big was the room? You know length, width and height? Were you using flammble liquids?

    Does that mean, they were squirting so little on smoke that the room flashed over? Don't you folks vent before you attack? You aggressively enter pushing smoke with a high heat build up when all the books say not to enter because it will self vent the direction the attack crew is feeding it air? Did you read the most recent NIOSH report on 3 deaths doing that in Iowa? Geesh!

    Define dry CAFS and wet CAFS, what they mean in gpm. Didn't you guys know how to operate your fire truck? Dang, getting people hurt and all?

    So the real issue is operator error not that CAFS is bad, I see. The same thing as not pumping a line properly, or leaving your nozzle on 30 gpm instead of 200 gpm, etc.

    People make stupid mistakes and people get hurt, but in this case the crew didn't test their line before they entered so they helped hurt themsleves. Sounds like a team effort.

    You know a dry CAFS line is noticably different that a wet one. I doubt a single guy in our department couldn't tell the difference between them and the sound of the stream is night and day as well. Train man, these issues are very obvious. Do you use trained engineers?

    So Rochester NY FD runs CAFS??

    We run a 100% CAF fleet here.

  22. #22
    Capt. Lou
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hi LHS*,

    WOW! I couldn't have said it any better. You're right on target.

    I said it before and I'll keep on saying it, CAFS is incredible, it simply makes water more efficient.

    The problems that I've experienced with CAFS has been operator errors. Training and education is the key with CAFS as with any other aspect of firefighting.

    Good luck!

    Capt. Lou

  23. #23
    Carpandean
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    You guys are right, as I said, CAFS is an effective system. The biggest problem IS training. These guys were veterans (from another department) doing an aggresive interior attack on, more or less, a room and contents fire. They recognized that it was approaching the flash point and hit the ceiling with a few shots of what turned out to be very dry CAFS and things got worse quickly. They had applied this tactic with water before with much success. The key was that their new system (Hale) allowed you to leave the CAFS set on dry and the pump operator failed to realize it.

    My point was not to attack CAFS, but to make people realize that the more complex you make your trucks, the more time you need to train. The more intuitive the systems are (see Rattlesnake's Off/Wet/Dry button) the easier it is to fight a fire safely. If you buy CAFS, plan to spend a good amount of training time (which most volunteer departments have less and less of, with more and more to cover) learning how to use it right. If you got the time to train, by all means buy the system.

    Oh, I don't know if Rochester FD uses CAFS. There are over 30 departments in Monroe County (which surrounds the city) alone, so I don't track all of them. I don't believe they do from what I've seen of their rigs.

  24. #24
    Firehose
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Geno
    Our department receintly purchased a new Luverne pumper equipped with the Waterous Eclipse CAFS pump. This comes to the truck builder as a complete, matched component package. We have found that we use CAFS on almost all alarms, especially vehicle fires. The cost of the foam consentrate has not been a problem, in fact, we believe it is actually a cost saving for us in the fact that we extinguish fire so much more quickly as well as greatly reduce water damage.

    Yes, initial cost is higher but in our view, well worth the added investment.

    As to the above statment concerning Foam gelling, Class B foam is subject to gelling. this is due to evaporation of the product. Once the foam is poured into a larger, open or partially sealed container (your foam tank) it begins this evaporation. The solution is simple to resolving this problem. Pour a quart or so of mineral oil into the foam. It will not mix but will float to the top and seal the foam from evaporation. We have been doing this for over a year with no product deteration.

    Good Luck with your new pumper

    Firehose

    [This message has been edited by Firehose (edited 05-06-2001).]

  25. #25
    Capt. Lou
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hi Firehose,

    Just wanted to say that we too use mineral oil in our Class "B" foam tank and it works exactly as you say. We've been using it for 3 years now.

    Capt. Lou
    "GOT FOAM"

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