1. #1
    EJR
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    Question Use of FF'ing Foam in Certain Farm/Ag Scenarios?

    My second department is located in a rural/agricultural area, with over 80% of the first due area in production agriculture. Many of these operations are chicken or hog related operations so large barns (some as big as 500 feet long) are “normal” to us. We have had success in doing the “normally unthinkable” of saving several of these structures, and the animals. This past week we attacked a fire in a pullet (small chickens, 4-5 weeks old) house which had 67,000 chicks in. Only 10,000 were lost to the fire – the rest survived and will continue on their journey to your grocer’s cooler. A picture of this incident is available here.

    However this most recent fire led us to some questions... Our neighboring company has just placed a compressed air foam engine into service within the last few months. We are NOT against CAFS, so this is not a knock on that.

    What our concern is will the use of the any class A foam cause any toxicity concerns for the animals, especially small chicks, dairy cows, or any of the animals for that matter? By this I mean, if any type of class A foam is used in some fashion to extinguish the fire, would the animals that are not lost to smoke or fire be injured or contaminated in some manner that would require that they also be destroyed?

    I have researched information on both Ansul and National Foam websites. The information below is from National Foam’s MSDS for their “Knockdown” class A foam:

    Section 3. HAZARDS IDENTIFICATION
    Potential Health Effects

    · Inhalation
    Vapors are minimal at room temperature. If product is heated or sprayed as an aerosol, airborne material may cause respiratory irritation.

    · Skin Contact
    Contact with liquid may cause moderate irritation or dermatitis due to removal of oils from the skin.

    · Eye Contact
    Product is an eye irritant.

    · Ingestion
    Not a hazard in normal industrial use. Small amounts swallowed during normal handling operations are not likely to cause injury; swallowing large amounts may cause injury or irritation.

    · Additional Health Effects
    Existing eye or skin sensitivity may be aggravated by exposure.

    As you can see that it can potentially cause some minor problems in humans so how will this affect the especially small animals? If we use the class A foam do we run the risk of increasing the loss to the farm owner because more will die or have to be destroyed, as opposed to them “just getting wet with plain water”? Likewise what down-time will they suffer so that the foam can be completely removed from the barn structures and equipment? One other question we have is if we “coat the interior with foam” do we run the risk of suffocating small chicks, etc.?

    We would like to develop some specific SOG’s to manage how we will or will not use any class A foam in attacking a fire in these types of structures - specifically in the cases where we believe that we have a reasonably good chance of saving the majority of the structure and contents. In these cases should we NOT be using the foam in the initial attack or overhaul phases so as not to increase the risk of losing more animals, etc. Obviously if we feel that there is no hope of saving the structure, we will consider the use of foam to enhance our capabilities.

    As many of our fire fighters are farmers themselves, we understand the need to “do what it takes” to keep these folks in business, so we want to develop proactive policies, not only from the fire fighting perspective, but also with the goal of providing the best customer service as well. Yes, it could be said that we could use the foam and put the fire out, but if the farmer ends up losing or having to destroy all of the livestock due to foam exposure, we could literally put him out of business... (And many in our community do not have insurance.)

    As I stated initially, we are NOT against the use of compressed air foam or any foam for that matter, we just need to be proactive in our approach to using it. If anyone has had any experience with this or has specific SOG’s/SOP’s that address these specific issues we would like to see them...

    Any information that we can obtained would be greatly appreciated. You may email me directly or go through my website.
    Last edited by AgRescue; 01-31-2005 at 10:27 AM.
    Eric J. Rickenbach ("EJR")
    FF/EMT/Instructor
    Rehrersburg (Berks County), PA
    www.rescuetechs.com
    ejr@rescuetechs.com

    If there is no patient, it isn't a rescue. If you can't do patient care, you can't be a rescue. You are just a bunch of people with a tool.

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    WOW!! Excellent question to consider. You might want to contact your local "Extention Agent" from the "Land Grand College" of Pennsylvania (would that be Penn State???). I am sure they would have researchers on staff that could look into this. It is also possible that the foam manufacturers may already have some data on this... so you can contact them as well.

    I'll be interested to see what you come up with.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

  3. #3
    EJR
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    Thumbs up

    Originally posted by MetalMedic
    You might want to contact your local "Extention Agent" from the "Land Grand College" of Pennsylvania (would that be Penn State???). I am sure they would have researchers on staff that could look into this.
    I already have both PSU and the PA Department of Ag in the loop on this question via separate correspondence. Just wanted the question to reach a larger audience. There is very little information, that I can find, on CAFS tactics available in general.

    Originally posted by MetalMedic
    I'll be interested to see what you come up with.
    I will attempt to post the information I receive here, and if not I will do it through my personal message board: LINK

    Thanks, EJR
    Eric J. Rickenbach ("EJR")
    FF/EMT/Instructor
    Rehrersburg (Berks County), PA
    www.rescuetechs.com
    ejr@rescuetechs.com

    If there is no patient, it isn't a rescue. If you can't do patient care, you can't be a rescue. You are just a bunch of people with a tool.

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    We ran up against these questions when the Texas Forest Service first started using the CAFS about twenty years ago. I have worked closely with many of the foam company chemist that first asked what is class A foam? The industry turned upside down when we told them we were using dish washing detergent as the most effective CAFS foaming agents for oil and wood fires. Ansul was the first to produce a product that could beat Dawn dish soap in fire tests. (but barely)

    Dawn has all the same warnings that you have mentioned earlier, it's not considered a hazardouse product to humans or livestock but it can hurt the ones that are sensitive to the stuff. The worst I've ever seen was a red rash that went away after a shower.
    My experience has been the same after being soaked for hours working with most of the Class A chemicals. It's never been a problem at the water drafting areas either, where tons of chemicals are used annually. The grass is greener and the ants are healthier.

    But consider the fire in a 500 foot long building, The CAFS has unlimited long distance, light weight hose ability. Using products no more harmful than dish detergent puting out fire in ordinary AND treated lumber, not to mention the painted lumber and synthetic building materials. From a hazmat point of view, wood gives off more than 100 listed TOXIC products of combustion (six of the products CAUSE cancer) and burning feathers create cyanide gas, so I would think the better choice would be the class A foam that stops 4 to twenty times more toxic pollution than water applications, and what about the contaminated excess water run-off? The surround and drownd water applications spread the contaminated water over large areas and usually winds up in the water shead and water table if not in the livestock ponds.

    My choice would be to use the CAFS to put the polluting fire out as fast and as easy as possible and the foam goes away by itself. What doesn't soak in, evaporates away. I have sprayed my dogs with the foam often over the past twenty years and they love it. Course I wash them with shampoo too. Hmmm? shampoo, and dish detergent? pretty much the same formula as class A foam.

    One other thing about the foam, it is an excellent heat shield, spray the exposed chicks that are near the fire and protect them from the radiant heat. It would be a mercifull thing to do.

    I hope this is usefull information.
    Mark Cummins

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    bump

    Closest thread I find to my subject today.

    Our FD finds a new jumbo hog confinement going up in rural area of our fire district. 6 BIG wood frame steel buildings. Footings now going in and this is the first our dept knew of the project. Could easily have 2500+gpm fire flow.

    Issue is preplanning. Now is the time to try to influence developer to assist with water supply (today would be tanker shuttle at max of about 500gpm). Sounds like will be no water storage on site (just a well).

    Anyone have on line ref to hog confinement fire AARs or training plans for fighting such? Also interested in building design standards/features that have been found to be of benefit.

    Anyone tried drafting from the lagoon? Not reliable as drained twice a year and I think very high in solids which would be ungood for our pumper. Strainer probably would not even work.

    Solution might be CAFS but don't see that in the budget in this lifetime.

    Not new issue nationally but new to us.

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    I am far from being a foam expert. With that being said I can say that I have used plenty of Phoschek class A foam. It comes in a blue jug and smells like oranges. Like any other product on the market they have all of their warning printed on the side of the jug such as "may cause skin irritation" and so on. I think this covers their *** the same as any company that makes medicine. If one person reported a new caused them to have a headache they have to list that as a side effect.

    I have never seen any of our FFs have any problem with being soaked down with the foam or the undiluted concentrate.

    Every class that I have taken on foam the instructors pretty much said that class A foam is glorified dish soap. They have warned that you should avoid contaminating any lakes ponds or rivers with it because it apparently removes the oxygen from the water and can kill the aquatic animals (fish).

    I am a terrorism instructor and have even discussed the option of using class A foam to decontaminate a large crowd of people in a hasty fashion.

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    I can see it now - from VinnieB - "What's a farm?"
    Busy polishing the stacked tips on the deckgun of I.A.C.O.J. Engine#1

    ...and before you ask - YES I have done a Bloody SEARCH!

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    i do know u shouldnt get any f500 in your eyes or mouth ......causes a mean case of the squirts!

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    I'm sure the ag guys will be asking"You wanna spray WHAT onto food grade chickens?".
    I'm sure just posing the questions will bring a lot of head scratching to this research.

    Quote Originally Posted by stillPSFB
    I can see it now - from VinnieB - "What's a farm?"

  10. #10
    EJR
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    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa
    Our FD finds a new jumbo hog confinement going up in rural area of our fire district. 6 BIG wood frame steel buildings. Footings now going in and this is the first our dept knew of the project. Could easily have 2500+gpm fire flow.

    Issue is preplanning. Now is the time to try to influence developer to assist with water supply (today would be tanker shuttle at max of about 500gpm). Sounds like will be no water storage on site (just a well).
    My area is full of these types of operations, however in our area most of the farms have some sort of accessible fresh water pond.

    Now would be the time to begin preplanning these operations for water supply, accessibility, building construction, etc. See if the farmer would allow you to see these building before the first animals are in. An important consideration is whether these are fehring houses, or feeder barns. (It will make a difference in the layout.)

    I know one of the problems with these buildings in our areas is they are designed to maintain a comfortable environment for the animals. (happy hogs eat better so to speak). Many of these structures are designed with various types of automatic ventilation systems, especially when it is too warm. Fires would activate alot of these systems, and we all know what happens when fires get more air...
    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa
    Anyone have on line ref to hog confinement fire AARs or training plans for fighting such? Also interested in building design standards/features that have been found to be of benefit.
    Design standards would be based upon your local codes, however here in PA a lot of the codes are exempted in agriculture.
    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa
    Anyone tried drafting from the lagoon? Not reliable as drained twice a year and I think very high in solids which would be ungood for our pumper. Strainer probably would not even work.
    This would NOT be a good idea. There is potential for damage to everything that the lagoons contents touches. You are correct that a strainer means absolutely nothing. Not to mention I don't think it would be a good idea to be spraying fire fighters with this "water" either .
    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa
    Solution might be CAFS but don't see that in the budget in this lifetime.
    Maybe CAFS is not within your budget, and I can understand that. But to reiterate... pre-planning (in the same manner our urban/suburban counterparts pre-plan industries, etc.) is the first and most important consideration. Where is your water and how is it getting from point A to point B. You may find that you do not have the water to fight the structure, so you may opt to develop a strategy to use what water you do have to protect exposures, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by neiowa
    Not new issue nationally but new to us
    And you are correct to ask these types of questions at this time. You are actually starting to "pre-plan in your head"... And yes, there are very few resources on dealing with these types of incidents, and while this is not a new issue nationally, it seems like there is very little written on the subject, per se. You may want to talk to your state fire training program, the land grant univeristy in your state, or if you want you may email me and I can give you some additional information and/or put you in touch with some other sources of information on this subject.
    Eric J. Rickenbach ("EJR")
    FF/EMT/Instructor
    Rehrersburg (Berks County), PA
    www.rescuetechs.com
    ejr@rescuetechs.com

    If there is no patient, it isn't a rescue. If you can't do patient care, you can't be a rescue. You are just a bunch of people with a tool.

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