1. #1
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    Default Tanker fires and foam....

    When I rode on E-6 the other day, we had a fully involved tanker fire ( 3,000 gal. ) and we were told to use foam. Well I got up on top and handed down 5 gallons, driver hooked up eductor and attempted to flow foam and nothing happened. We had pump at 200-250 PSI, and enductor was open. I'm not sure how old foam was but we think it had set up from not being replaced. Has anyone else had a problem with this? I'm just wondering. It was a good fire, I'm the only explorer that has had a tanker fire. Was kinda ironic though, when we left I was reading FireEngineering Magazine on LP gas and tanker fires. Come back at 1:00 in the morning and find that open, kinda weird. The only thing bad that happened was that Truck 2 beat us there, but it was E-6 3rd due district. Happened at I-40 at U.S. 52.
    Last edited by explr985; 09-20-2003 at 11:11 PM.
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    Sounds to me like it mightve been a problem in the eductor itself or the pickup tube(the tube that goes into the container).You may wanna check for any pinhole leaks in the eductor hose and also check for clogging.Another thing that comes to mind is the eductor pickup settings may not have been right which means if the foam is rated at .06 % then the "pickup" setting must also be at .06% or "matched" OR the eductor GPM wasnt matched with the fire hose GPM. You must remember that when using foam,the GPM in the eductor and the GPM that youre running thru the hose MUST be matched...meaning if you are running 250 GPM at the nozzle...then the eductor must also be rated for 250 GPM.But no...it has nothing to do with the foam being old becuase whether the foam is old or not it will still have its "flowing qualities"...it will just be very low on "expansion".Also....how far from the nozzle are you running the eductor?...how many feet behind the nozzle?....The reason I ask is because some eductors are or was designed for adding inline within a certain amount of feet(no more than 150 or 250 ft BEHIND the nozzle).
    Also...is this eductor the inline type(meaning does it run thru the pump like a CAD unit or is it the type that you just hook up behind a nozzle and has the pickup tube?

    Be Safe and good luck

    Donna C
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    July26 has some valid points....

    A very important one is the fact that your equipment must be compatible and your foam must also be compatible.

    Now....here are some more thoughts. I will disagree with July26 (respectfully chief) that there was not a problem with the foam. First, how old was it? You said you handed it down from the top. Well, storing the foam outside like that in different weather environments will affect the foam. The heat and cold will impact it's abilities to maintain it's qualities. Read the label on the can relating to storage requirements. Also, if the foam was AFFF-ATC and it had been opened and the top not put back securely, the effectiveness of the foam is compromised. Additionally, if you had used some foam out of the can (assuming it was AFFF-ATC) and then re-sealed the can with it being partially full the following will occur. As you drive around and the foam sloshes in the partly full can the polymers begin to seperate and the a polymeric membrane will form on the top. This is what gives you the extinguishing and vapor suppressiopn capabilities and when you draw from the can in this case all you get is liquid and there will be sludge left in the can. National Foam's "GOLD" 1% x 3% AFFF-ATC is thick like that and will give you the idea it is "bad" if you do not understand how foam works. The same happens when you carry AFFF-ATC in your on board tanks if you do not keep them full and if they are not vented properly. In most cases the shelf life on foam is unlimited when stored properly.

    Additionally, your eductor may have been stopped up. If you use foam and do not flush/clean your equipment, it often gets gummed up and the little ball in the venturi of the eductor will get stuck, rendering your equipment useless. Equipment should be flushed and then cleaned in hot soapy water and then rinsed after use.

    Now....some questions?
    #1 What type of foam was it?
    #2 Was it 1% x 3%,3% x 3%, 1% x 6%?
    #3 What percentage were you using on the eductor?
    #4 What GPM was your nozzle and were you using an aspirator, fog or straight Stream?
    #5 What GPM was your eductor?
    #6 Was the screen still in the bottom of the pick-up tube? (a lot of foam experts suggest you remove it to enhance capabilities)
    #7 How long was your hose line? (limited to 200 feet from eductor unless you are using some manufacturer's low pressure nozzles)
    #8 Why did you go to 250PSI?.....Requirement is 200PS to eductor
    #9 You were getting no foam at all? or was it just ineffective?
    #10 MOST IMPORTANTLY>>>>When was last time your department trained on foam?

    If this does not help I suggest you contact Mr. Jim Cottrell of Cottrell & Associates ( jimcott@aol.com ) and get his advice. He is considered by most as an expert in the foam field and I am sure he will be happy to offer you information as a courtesy.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    God, I hope this is someone pulling our legs...

    3,000 gallon tanker, fully involved...let's setup the 5 gallon can of foam and eductor...anyone see a problem here?

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    Red face

    Dalmation90....

    You know..I had that in the back of my mind when I replied. I have learned (as I am sure to which you were eluding)...that in situations like this we have no where near the amount of foam required, even if we had an onboard tank. Bottom line in this case, it may have been better to let it burn and consume the fuel, melting down the outer shell as it did, leaving less mess for clean up. Protect exposures and step back!
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Tanker Fire hmmm.... set up major supply lines bring in our foam unit and then foam the "H" out of it...I agree that you can't do much with 1 5 gallon pail. You might want to call your nearest airport for the CFR truck.

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    Dal,you stole my thunder again.3000 gal. and a 5 gal bucket of foam?HeHe,going to take a bit more than that.With due respect to the Chief,I disagree on the shelf life of the concentrate.Up here in the north,freezing of class B concentrate can cause a breakdown which leaves the foam looking more like Jello than foam.Once there,it WILL NOT flow thru an eductor.I've seen similar conditions in unfrozen containers as they age.The old protein foam was as good a storing foam as there was,but nasty to work with.Grows grass well though.T.C.

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    #1 test your equipment often. Use up outdated foam for drills and tests. No outdated foam? Use colored water to test your pick-up tube and eductor. "O" rings on the eductor pick-up tube must remain well lubricated with some lithium grease.

    #2 NEVER start a foam operation until you have more than enough foam on scene to mitigate the problem!

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    When in doubt, batch mix.
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    Batch Mixing is only good for Class A.....I am assuming by Batch Mixing you mean pouring it into the tank?
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    A lot of good advise and things to think about.
    Cant say enough about keeping the eductor clean and flushing it after EVERY foam and foam type use.
    Some other things to think about. Was the nozzel valve open the whole way...If you are using a 95 GPM eductor and the nozzel is only partially open chances are you are not flowing 95 gpm and the eductor will not suck foam concentrate. Was the incident up hill from your engine (eductor) causing back pressure?
    Do you use multiple types of foam ... like AFFF-Standard, AFFF-Universal (for polar solvents-Alcohol resistive) and or Class A. If you have PREVIOUSLY acidentally mixed them and NOT cleaned the eductor system before changing foam types you may have gumed up the eductor system (and plumbing on your truck if it is an internal bypass type system).
    There are so many things that could have happened...We just need more information to help you with your problem.
    Like many have said before...If you only had a total of 5 gallons of foam for a 3000 gallon tanker...you probably should have saved your foam for a smaller incident.
    I also suggest you contact Mr. Cottrell...he can be a big help. Perhaps he can do a foam class for your department...I have had many foam classes over the years...and he has a slightly different approach that makes things more memorable. GOOD LUCK
    BB

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    Originally posted by captstanm1
    Batch Mixing is only good for Class A.....I am assuming by Batch Mixing you mean pouring it into the tank?
    Yes, dump direct into tank.

    We have a wildland heavy unit which uses a batch mix (type A) CAF system.

    We had a tanker truck fire two months ago. It was a crude oil hauler truck with a truck mounted 400 barrel tank and a 400 barrel pup trailer.

    The type A CAFs had the fire out in under 10 minutes and under 850 gallon of water and 50 gallons of foam (what the truck capacity is).
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
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    Ok...Yes...Class A foam will in most cases suppress or aid in suppression of Flammable Liquids Fires. However, there is NO RATING for vapor suppression when it comes to Class A Foam. So...yep...you sure do extinguish the finre, but create a problem that you can not see.....VAPORS!!!

    I was assuming that from the original post and from the description, we were dealing with Class B Foam. Not a good idea at all to begin to rely on class A for Class B Fires..... Not knocking CAF Systems,,,,but when you use Class A Foam for uses other than it is approved/designed, you are setting yourself up for a problem.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Originally posted by captstanm1
    Ok...Yes...Class A foam will in most cases suppress or aid in suppression of Flammable Liquids Fires. However, there is NO RATING for vapor suppression when it comes to Class A Foam. So...yep...you sure do extinguish the finre, but create a problem that you can not see.....VAPORS!!!

    I was assuming that from the original post and from the description, we were dealing with Class B Foam. Not a good idea at all to begin to rely on class A for Class B Fires..... Not knocking CAF Systems,,,,but when you use Class A Foam for uses other than it is approved/designed, you are setting yourself up for a problem.
    Good idea or not, it is a neccesity for us.

    We are a rural (to the extream) Montana Vol fire department which is blessed not only with literaly thousands of square miles of pristeen nature, but also with a substantial pertolium industry in the form of the Williston Basin Oil Formation.

    Our small budget is "burnt" up each and every year (since 88 till present) fighting wildfire which has gone far beyond disaster proportions. This has left us very short on equipment to combat other types of fire, such as chemical fires associated with the oil industry. We have applied to the Fire Act grant (got the 6 questions, fingers crossed and waiting patiently ) to help replace such essential gear as structural PPE, SCBAs, and to get our hands on a TIC which is great when you want to know how much of a given nasty liquid is still in a tank. We have been responding to these types of incidents with bunker gear that is 10-15 years old and well cooked. Our SCBAs are nearly suicidal. This is not because of lack of care, it is because of lack of funds. Hopefully that will soon change.

    Which also brings up the vehicle issue. We have a 1000 GMP 1983 Peirce pumper truck with Class A foam and a 1985 International rescue/pumper with Class A foam. Those are our structure trucks, thats it. They are definatly not what is needed at a significant chemical fire.

    What we do have and make the best of is wildland units, we have 14 brush trucks of varios types. Our most capable of these baja machines are the CAFs units. We have 2 for the county, a light and a Heavy. We are desperatly looking for more. These are the units that put out our chem fires (and in reality more then their fair share of wildfire). They are basicly the only ones that have a chance to control a chemical fire. We have also had good fortune at structure fires with them.

    So, if you think that fighting chemical fires in 15 year old Bunker gear, SCBAs that like to leave you a bit short on air, and with wildland CAF brush trucks useing Class A foam is a bad idea...

    I would tend to agree with you!

    So it seems a FEMA/NFPA group of my peers would also.

    Its not that we like to live dangerously, we just dont have much choice.

    On the brite side, there is not a lot we havent tried/learned/perfected with class A compressed air foam.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
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    Random Thoughts:

    1) Class B foam simply isn't practical for most departments. The quantity you need to be effective, and the incredibly rare times most departments would see the proper situation, doesn't make it cost effective.

    That said I know there's some departments using Class B in their CAFS systems, but I still like to see the environmental impact statements on that. Class B isn't the evilist thing in the world, but it's still many times worse than Class A, and at least in my state the State DEP has a real dislike of Class B foams.

    2) Crude oil fires are a much different beast from Gasoline or even Kerosene/Diesel/No. 2 Fuel Oil fires. Crude generally is less volatile than refined fuels, and it tends to be thicker.

    Heck, going down the refinement scale to industrial (No. 6?) fuel oil and naval fuel oils, there used to be tactics of simply using plain water to froth the oil up to smother itself. If I recall right, that same tactic could be used on crude. Of course today with foam much more readily available, that's the greatly preferred tactic.

    3) The "vapor barrier" formed by AFFF or other film-forming foams depends on a relatively flat, unpenetrated surface. Heavy grass on the side of the road? Not going to have a film form properly. Just have a tank burning or fuel spilled on an airport tarmack? Yep, AFFF will form a film and suppress vapors that way.

    I'm sure it varies from area to area, but most rural to suburban areas the usual advise is to let the fire burn, and protect exposures. If you have a special situation, like the fire is exposing steel of a bridge (and that could cause substantial disruption to a lot of people for a long time to replace that bridge), then having a good CAFS system you can use to knock down the fire and form a foam blanket that'll do a fair job of suppressing vapors is a good thing.

    But even at that, you're gonna need to make sure you can keep re-supplying Class A foam to keep that Class A CAFS blanket in tact. Certainly an easier job than using 3% Class B through aspirating nozzles...but still a challenge if you have a large spill and a long ETA for cleanup crews.

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    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
    Random Thoughts:

    1) Class B foam simply isn't practical for most departments. The quantity you need to be effective, and the incredibly rare times most departments would see the proper situation, doesn't make it cost effective.

    That said I know there's some departments using Class B in their CAFS systems, but I still like to see the environmental impact statements on that. Class B isn't the evilist thing in the world, but it's still many times worse than Class A, and at least in my state the State DEP has a real dislike of Class B foams.


    I totaly agree. We are not in the forseeable future going to be purchaseing a large quantity of Class B foam. In the past if a large quantity was needed, we would contact one of the Air Force Bases. They cant take their crash trucks off base (it is literaly an act of congress to do so), but they can bring in a semi trailer full of class B foam. This is also a major political endeavor, but it has been used once before (before my time) to combat a treater battery fire which involved something like 10,000 barrels of crude.

    For now though, our best option is CAF Class A and a lot of luck.

    We do have an abundance of Class A on hand, as do our mutual aid departments. We can have a few thousand gallons of Class a at an incident in an hour. Problem is that we have no way to flow that much compressed air class A foam right now. A rough guess is that between us and our closes mutual aid department is that we can put out around 500 gpm of compressed Class A. That can realy do wonders if used with skill, but it is a fare cry from what is needed on some calls.

    We need more CAfs units! We are working toward this all the time. Hopefully we can continue to pick up BLM/USFS surplus wildland units, which for the most part these days come standard with turbine CAFs systems. Some of these units will be comeing up for surplus soon, IIRC on light engines they surplus them at 6 years, for heavies (what we are realy wanting) it is 11 years.

    Surplus engines are basicly the only way we can expand our CAFs fleets. You can get an entire unit for the price of what one new CAFs system (minus truck) would cost.

    2) Crude oil fires are a much different beast from Gasoline or even Kerosene/Diesel/No. 2 Fuel Oil fires. Crude generally is less volatile than refined fuels, and it tends to be thicker.

    Heck, going down the refinement scale to industrial (No. 6?) fuel oil and naval fuel oils, there used to be tactics of simply using plain water to froth the oil up to smother itself. If I recall right, that same tactic could be used on crude. Of course today with foam much more readily available, that's the greatly preferred tactic.
    I have heard of that, but in our case we have a limited water supply. There are very few rural water sources these days, all of the small ponds have dried up due to drought. We have a substantial tender fleet available to use, both in our district and from mutual aid. We can have about 50,000 gallon of clean tender water on sence in under 30 minutes, but that is not a lot if you are going to try the "froth" tactic IMO.

    Our CAF realy helps counter act our water logistics problem. I wish every one of our units was CAFs, and they will be eventualy, probly 20-30 years down the line.

    3) The "vapor barrier" formed by AFFF or other film-forming foams depends on a relatively flat, unpenetrated surface. Heavy grass on the side of the road? Not going to have a film form properly. Just have a tank burning or fuel spilled on an airport tarmack? Yep, AFFF will form a film and suppress vapors that way.

    I'm sure it varies from area to area, but most rural to suburban areas the usual advise is to let the fire burn, and protect exposures. If you have a special situation, like the fire is exposing steel of a bridge (and that could cause substantial disruption to a lot of people for a long time to replace that bridge), then having a good CAFS system you can use to knock down the fire and form a foam blanket that'll do a fair job of suppressing vapors is a good thing.

    But even at that, you're gonna need to make sure you can keep re-supplying Class A foam to keep that Class A CAFS blanket in tact. Certainly an easier job than using 3% Class B through aspirating nozzles...but still a challenge if you have a large spill and a long ETA for cleanup crews. [/B]
    Interestingly enough, one of the old school oil field clean up methods was to throw a match into a spill and let it burn itself clean. This is of course frowned upon in our kinder greener earth days... And for the better I would asume. But you are very correct, if we pulled up on 800 barrels of high octain gasoline cooking hot, we would be on damage control mode. There is no way at this point we can flow enough compress air foam to even start to blanket that situation. Maybe if we started on the extream edge, upwind, we could work the blanket over the fire. It would be fun to try, but I wouldnt be heart broken if it failed.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
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    LOL...

    While our State DEP Oil & Chemical Spills Division is duking it out with the Air Quality Division whether it's better to let burn or extinguish...the fire usually burns out

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    Its better to burn out then to fade away...



    My personal opioion is that its better to let it burn. It is destined to do so anyway, and it saves on a whole lot of hassel after the fact.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

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    That is very true on the part about the foam turning into jello BUT...i was only going by our personal experience as we have had no probs with our foam system but then we keep our foam containers inside a compartment but yet it all depends on the circumstances varying by department.

    Donna C
    Fire Chief
    Bridge Canyon VFD
    http://cms.firehouse.com/dept/SeligmanAZ

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    The foam was stored in enclosed compartments on the truck, not out in the open. I'm not sure how old it was, as I am not assigned to any one company. The enductor was a new one, never used to my knowladge, so I am gonna guess and say it was good. We had 25 gallons of foam on this engine, as do all others. I forgot to add the fact we had 5 engines on scene so we had plenty of foam, and to who ever said call for CFR, I was waiting to hear it called for but I never did, but it went so fast I did'nt really know who all was there until about a hour later. We did'nt let it burn because it was burning the roadway, big rough place in the middle of west bound I-40 now.
    No longer an explorer, but I didn't wanna lose my posts.

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    Explr985....Ok...so you had 125 gallons of foam. Assuming best case scenario that it was a 3 x 3 ATC Foam...

    3 gallons for every 97 Gallons of foam.

    You do not say so I am "assuming" that you had more than one line off and most standard eductor are 95GPM.

    So.....
    Scenario 1
    >Flowing 190 GPM @ 3% Foam = about 5.9 gallons of foam concentrate per minute.
    >With 125 gallons of foam you have enough foam to last just over 21 minutes (with everything being perfect).

    Scenario 2
    >flowing 190 GPm @ 6% foam = about 12.1 gallons per minute of concentrate
    >125 Gallons of foam concentrate in this case would give you about 10.3 minutes of foam.

    Quetion??? Was all the foam on site when you started? If so...then maybe.... If not...by the time you knock it down with 25 gallons (if you can) then set up with the next pumpers foam you are not gaining any headway.

    If by chance you were able to extinguish the fire with that amount of concentrate you would have to continually re-apply the foam blanket to suppress vapor or rish re-ignition. The constant re-application would increase the run-off and make additional problems.

    Do you see why some of us say that you just carry enough foam concentrate to "get you in trouble" and...most often it is better to protect exposures and let it burn off?
    Last edited by captstanm1; 09-27-2003 at 07:25 PM.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Five Gallons of foam concentrate and a 3000 gallon flammable liquid tanker on fire?
    Impossible huh? It all depends how you equip your fleet and if you believe Phoenix’s Chiefs line 7 years ago when he said any pumping apparatus purchased without CAFS is obsolete before you purchase it. We can certainly make a case to that regard.

    All 6 of our rigs carry 2500 gallons of water, have 220 cu ft compressors for CAFS, to treat all 500 gallons of water with 1% AFFF that we inject at a rate of 0.001 percent, yes one tenth of 1% we can operate off tank water with a 600 gpm stream (1 ½ inch smooth bore) at 175 psi tip for 22 minutes or a 1400 gpm (2 inch smooth bore) 189 psi tip stream for 10 minutes. Both streams have better than 250 foot reach.

    We don’ pack any Class A foam for structural fires. The 3M product guide says you need 10,000 gallons of water to satisfy US Coast Guard dilution rates for AFFF concentrate, when mixed with water at 1% you need 1000 gallons of water, when used at one tenth of 1 percent you need 100 to 1. We dump our pit training water directly into the bay after dilution and it is measured frequently by the folks who preserve the wildlife. We add a few billion microbes to our concentrate as well. It is quit friendly.

    So how much foam do we use to treat the tank water? 2.5 gallons of concentrate. We can knock down and bury every flammable liquid pit, prop, pump, facility, oven, etc simultaneously (3 acres worth) plus cover the entire 5 acre concrete area off tank water leaving 4 to 6 inch blanket. All metal surfaces up to 90 feet in height are covered with ¼ inch of foam 40 minutes after application on a 95 degree day. The amount of water used is so low hat we have to flush the pops with water monitors to get the foam into our holding tanks when we are done. Runoff of isn’t an issue.

    What is more, we are not relying on film formation which the US Navy tests really can’t occur with 8 of the 10 most common flammable liquids they have tested AFFF on and most surfaces don’t allow film formation to occur anyway. We rely on a nice thick foam blanket.

    And yes we have taken on a 8000 gallon tanker and put it out and secured it until vacuumed away with ¼ tank of water, no supply line on just ¾ of a gallon of concentrate.

    When we have to get serious, we dump our water tanks and fill them with concentrate in the station. We can use our portable monitor with a 3350 gpm fog tip and supply it with hydrant support for 77 minutes off foam on board. It takes three firefighters 4 minutes to deploy the gun and sustain a flow. Each rig can deploy a 2500 and a 600 gpm master stream in less than 3 minutes with hydrant, turbo draft or draft supply. Using 5 turbo drafts over 3000 gpm is available from 200 feet distance from the gulf using soft hose. Four rigs can operate and sustain a 14,000 gpm (fourteen thousand) portable monitor at draft in less than 5 minutes and insure foam supply for 73 minutes without any additional support. We are not an industrial department but sit in the middle of a huge industrial area.

    If you stay away from polar foams, the kind with 3/6, 3/3, 1/3 markings on the can, you won't have eductor problems. You won't have clogging issues. You won't have jelling either. 1% concentrates go 3 times further than 3% and 6 times further than 6 percent concentrates when used with regular foam nozzles. One can of one percent is the same as 6 cans of 6 percent. We have the 3rd largest flammable liquid production area in the U.S, and only have a handful of polar solvent risks requiring polar foams, so I doubt most of the fire service world has any reason for polar foam.

    So what would we still have to reapply and secure the blanket? Oh with CAF’d AFFF we have 5 to 15 minutes per application, a 1 inch line will produce more foam than a regular AFFF line and apply softer. We’d run out of water in 9 or 10 hours, foam concentrate would never be an issue.

    The right foam, a little planning, a compressor and you have a rig that is much better than most airport crash trucks.

  23. #23
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    Default No polar,no gell

    Well that theory may work in Texas but I can tell you that up here in the frosty climes;Foam,conventional,polar or bi-polar will sure as hell gell up.I'm not in agreement with you on the polar foam either, not that it makes a diff one way or the other.The point of the message from the Crusties was,in case you didn't read enough into the message,that if you DO NOT have sufficient foam concentrate to effectively supply YOUR foam system don't waste your time and concentrate trying.If you've got a big CAFS unit,bully for you.I think I can speak to most of the nation's units in saying we don't here.CAFS is a wonderful thing and gaining popularity quickly but water's been around as long as we have with fishgut foam following second at over 60 years.T.C.

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