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  1. #1
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    Default Dishwashing soap in your tanks?

    Here in Silver City, Oklahoma, we're too poor to put real foam into our tanks for wildfires, so we opt for liquid dishwashing detergent.

    Several other area departments do the same. After some experimentation, we use about 8 ounces of detergent for every 200 gallons of water with good results. We use Dawn (I don't know why. Probably because it's cheap.)

    We've found that it stretchs our already meager resources. Not nearly as effective as REAL foam (which we use for tank battery and car fires), but better than plain ol' water.

    Anybody else out there do this, or is this just out here in the sticks in Oklahoma?
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA


  2. #2
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    Dawn liquid dish detergent was used by the Texas Forest Service and other small VFDs in Texas many many years ago to make a penetrating water based fire suppressant. It was the beginning of class A Foam systems. The Texas Dept. of Corrections began to make class A Foam concentrate many years ago as well to supply Texas firefighting agencies. Basically, class A Foam is a hi-tech dish washing liquid soap.
    DFCWINSRET

  3. #3
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    Just to add to the previous post. Dawn was the recommended choice for an effective and not too expesive way to break the surface tension of the water. It was far less corrosive than some of the ones on the market at the time. By adding the detergent to the tank you are breaking up the surface tension of the water and allowing it to be a more effective agent. .. ie. TDC Firequench... However if you go back many many years the Texas Forestry Service was actually using a byproduct of the pulpwood industry called pine skim soap. We used to pick it up free of charge and although it worked good on wildland stuff it had very little heat absorbing or consistency characteristics of the new class A foams. We used to batch mix it in the tank at quanities far greater than we do now with the proportioners. We have been using CAFS since 1980 when we we acquired a TFS rig on an old Army 6X6. They requested the chassis back in 83 and we have added 2 grass units and 2 large CFM units for structures. Class A foams and compressed air foam systems have evolved into a very important addition to our arsenal.

  4. #4
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    Might add two cents to this one. You might want to check with the pump manufacturer about batch mixing liquid dish soap in your tanks. We all know what "Dawn" does for your dishes..." it gets the grease out of the way!". You might want to consider what it may be doing to the packings on the pump. Depending on the type of packing and materials the packing is made of, you maybe removing part of the lubrication ability from the material. "Dawn" works well on petroleum based products if you are working with Haz-Mat items. "Ivory" dish soap, which is based more for natural materials, might work just as well. However, I would still be concerned about possible problems down the road about damage to pump packings and internal parts from possible removal of lubricating capabilities or build up of something in the packings which could create problems down the road. If pump is equiped with mechanical seals, you should have no problems. We've all heard the addage.." If it ain't broke don't fix it"...maybe we should change it to..."If it ain't broke don't fix it, however, let's take a closer look at it just in case!"

    Be Safe
    "If it ain't broke, don't fix it...but, maybe we had better take a closer look at it."

  5. #5
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    Bryan
    I don't know for sure that anybody ever actually put it in the tanks, but up in Alaska people talked about putting dawn in there. I was wondering kinda along the same lines as Capt. Hickman, since it's a degreaser. Could you treat just like you would having to draft saltwater, and flush it out? That'd be a pain in the ***.
    So it isn't just in the booming metropolis of Silver City!
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01

  6. #6
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    I guess we were on the right track with this dishwashing soap thing. Makes us feel kinda proud...

    We hadn't considered Dawn a hazard to the pumps. The department south of us uses Ivory. We'll look into it and I'll let you know what they tell me.

    Mr. Freeze: whereabouts in Oklahoma are you?
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  7. #7
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    If I were going to use a "soap" in my system it would be thru an eductor outboard of the pump.If all you want is a penetrating water then use bleach.Try this at home,take a glass of water filled to the brim.Now add a drop of bleach and see what happens.The biggest reason I wouldn't put it in my tank is the excessive foaming you get when filling it.T.C.

  8. #8
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    Bryan: Down in the metro for right now, but may be moving to Stillwater soon...

    Are there any environmental concerns with foam? Maybe I saw too much of the type of people that worked for AK Fire Service, but they were hardcore about not making an impact. They'd never spill a drop of fuel or anything, biodegradable this and that.
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01

  9. #9
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    True, it does get a little foamy when you refill a tank on a fire. We pour the soap in after the tank's full to keep it down to a minimum.

    We're not real concerned about the environmental aspects of dishwashing soap. We don't use it in quantities high enough to make an impact. Not many people care if we use biodegradable foam or dishwashing soap in a field full of brush and weeds that hasn't been mowed in 15 years.

    Bleach is a new one for me. Any idea what kind of concentration to use?
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  10. #10
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    Just wanted to let you know we use soap all the time for both brush and structure fires.
    We started out using Dawn, now we buy bulk industrial soap, not sure of brand, not at firehouse right now. We have been doing it for over a year and haven't had any problems.
    One down side is that the investigators have to work a little harder if someone used gas or the like to start the fire, but usually not a problem. We mix one gallon per 1000 gals.

  11. #11
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    Excessive foam is great!
    It's easier to clean the Rigs with all that foam already on them. We like to use the lemon scented dawn. Nothing like a lemon fresh fire.

  12. #12
    Forum Member bjlffire's Avatar
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    What other soaps are used?What are the costs for industrial soap as opposed to a class A foam ?

  13. #13
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Years ago, I used to do the annual spring maintenance on our indian tanks (backpack pump cans). Make sure all the pumps pumped, didn't leak to bad, mix-and-match enough to get things working, then squirt in some of whatever was underneath the sink for dishwashing liquid.

    I do, however, wonder on the cost effectiveness...

    NetGrocer:
    Dawn
    Anti-Bacterial Dishwashing Liquid $3.42/Qt

    We're buying our Class A foam (Silv-ex) as part of the State of Connecticut bulk purchase each spring around $50/5 gallon pail, or $2.50/qt.

    If you just need a bit, it's cheaper to buy a few ozs at a time...if you use any significant amount, I'd have to think it's like Sam's club -- buying in bulk is still cheaper!
    IACOJ Canine Officer
    20/50

  14. #14
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    I have to say that where am from the closest we have to a wildland fire is someones yard.
    I was wondering though why you would use foam on a car fire. We have never used foam that I know of and have never had a problem. We use straight water.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

  15. #15
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    There's nothing wrong with using straight water on a car fire. However, we've found that we can extinguish a car fire with less water if we use foam also. Our car fires are generally pretty well involved when we get there, and water conservation is a big issue here.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  16. #16
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    Gotta agree with a previous post----if you have a good supplier that will work with you on the shipping----class A foam is far cheaper than dishwashing liquid.Now AFF is another story-

  17. #17
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    As a dealer for National Foam I may be a bit biased but here goes. Yes...compare the costs. National Knockdown (EPA rated and approved with no reportable ingrediants) is $11.50/gallon. A bit more expensive than Silvex (which is what Florida Forestry uses) but can be effectively used as a wetting agent at 1/10%. And at 1% produces a good faom blanket for exposure protection. So...if you are using dawn and ivory (remember ivory has some lye in it) consider the cost and contact your NATIONAL FOAM DEALER. Or, you can contact jimcott@aol.com of Cottrell Associates and he will forward you a letter discussing the comparison. National Knockdown is also a "dump and pump" foam as well as being used from eductors. So..think about it....... And...yes...I wonder the effect on pump parts that soap has. Remember.....National Knockdown is UL lsited and approved and has an EPA rating with No reportable ingrediants
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  18. #18
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    YA KNOW WE USE THE FOAM BUT MY DEFINITION OF A "GLUB" AND THE OTHER GUY'S ARE DIFFERENT. WE PREMIX IN OUR FOREST SERVICE 300 GAL TANKS AND SOME TIMES YOU GET A THE BARBASOL EFFECT COMING OUT OF EVERY PLACE, AND WORST OF ALL YOUR PUMP LOSSES PRIME CAUSE IT WON'T PUSH STRAIGHT FOAM.

    BUT ANYWAY WE USE TO USE DAWN BUT IT IS MORE ECCONMICAL TO JUST CARRY FIVE GALLONS ON THE BACK THATS HANDY BECAUSE WHEN WE REFILL WE PUT A "GLUB" IN AND IT WORKS GREAT.
    M. Cory Myers
    NREMTP/FF
    it's better to load N go then stay N play

  19. #19
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    I assume a "glub" is when you're pouring the foam in, you stop after the first "glub" sound that comes from the bucket?

    I like it......THAT'S something everyone can understand!
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  20. #20
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    We've been using class A foam since the late 80's and will still carry a couple bottles of Dawn on each rig. Its great for car fires or small trash dumpster fires where we don't want to mess with pulling a preconnected foam line. We also use it for fuel spills on the roadway. For major ones we use an emulsifier (Topsall) through a portable foam unit (ProPack)), but for the small stuff, a couple of squirts of Dawn works great.

    We don't put it in the tanks (batch mix) -- we just hold it near the nozzle and squirt it into the water stream. You can also use it on master streams that way. It can also be used during Hazmat decon. We buy the big multi-packs of Dawn at Sam's.

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