# Thread: How much water is enough water??

1. ## How much water is enough water??

I've been having this arguement with the commissioners of our department, so I thought I'd pose the question to everyone here:

On any given call, we have 2 pumpers with 1000 gallons each , and one tanker with 3000 gallons responding to non-hydranted areas. And in hydranted areas, 3 pumpers with 1000gallons each responding.

Now, we are looking to replace one of the engines with a rescue-style pumper equipped with 750 booster tank with a 20 gallon foam cell with either CAFS or a regular foam system.

The commissioners argue that we need 1000 gallons, and that 1000 gallons will put out alot more fire than 750. Yet they want the storage space on this new truck to resemble that of a pumper with a 750 booster tank.

My question for all of you is: If you cant put out an interior fire with 750 gallons of foam, should you really be attacking this fire with an offensive stance??

Keep in mind: if we had a fire on our side of town, the next due engine, with 1000 gallons of water, has a 4 minute ETA , so by the time we are set up and ready to put out water, that engine may be on scene already.

2. My question for all of you is: If you cant put out an interior fire with 750 gallons of foam, should you really be attacking this fire with an offensive stance??
I would say probably not. Thats a lot of foam and while I dont have any numbers in front of me, I know the foam increases the extinguishing power of water by X amount.

I would recommend finding the numbers someplace and trying to explain the advantages of the foam. In your situation, I would go with CAFS as you get even more "bang for the buck" compared to straight class A with an onboard eductor.

3. Originally posted by Dave1983

I would say probably not. Thats a lot of foam and while I dont have any numbers in front of me, I know the foam increases the extinguishing power of water by X amount.

I would recommend finding the numbers someplace and trying to explain the advantages of the foam. In your situation, I would go with CAFS as you get even more "bang for the buck" compared to straight class A with an onboard eductor.
Thanks Dave, I am in the process of attempting to find some of these numbers.

I think that a 30 gallon class A foam cell with CAFS is enough for somewhere in the ball park of 3000 gallons, but I'm not quite sure.

4. I would say its beyond the interior attack mode. But every case is independent of each other. You would definitly need to re-evaluate the situation if you hadn't atleast stopped the spread of fire. The majority of water is used in overhaul stages anyway, the initial attack (or fire stop benchmark) is typically the quickest and utilizes less water.

5. Check with the Pflugerville Texas FD. www.pflugervillefire.com

They are considered one of the leaders in using CAFS. I was at a conference several years ago hosted by this department and got to see the results of their program.

I'm sure that they would be able to provide some info on what works and what doesn't.

Stay Safe
IACOJ

6. thanks everyone, I'm going to give a call to someone at Pflugerville Texas FD when I get home today. Anyone other information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

7. ## Re: How much water is enough water??

Originally posted by firefightergtp
And in hydranted areas, 3 pumpers with 1000gallons each responding.
If your department can't hook up to a hydrant before going through 3000 gallons of water there is some other issue bigger than tank size going on. We run with 2 500 gal. pumpers and have never run out of water before getting the hydrant flowing.

As far as the tanker operations go, think more along the lines of how much water flow goes through the nozzle, not what is the GPM of the pump. If the pump is 1500 GPM and the CAFS/foam/water nozzle is 200 GPM (or whatever your's might be), how fast are you really using that 5000-6000 gallons of water you have on scene? The amount of water used in initial attack depends on how well it is being applied to the fire.

If the need for more equipment storage means dropping the tank size down on ONE of your engines in the case as you have explained it to us, your commissioners need to let you do it. It's only 250 gallons less for Pete's sake.

8. Our first engine has had a 750 gallon booster tank for as long as I have been on my current department and we have never ran out of water in a rural setting. I was concerned about this when I first joined in 1989 because my previous two departments ran with 1000 gallons on the first engine out. Until 1999 we didn't even use foam. As stated, if 750 gallons applied properly isn't going to do the job, you are probably looking at a defensive mode fire. Furthermore, if it is a 750 gallon fire, you best be setting up alternate water supplies. Chances are pretty good that you would need to do the same if you spent your 1000 gallons as well.

9. Thanks for all the responses everyone! One of the commissioners just emailed me and said : "If we go with CAFS, 750 will be more than enough". So now what I have to do is really convince them to let us spend the extra 30K on a CAFS system.

Here are a few problems I have to overcome:

1) Price - its a tough sell, no matter what it is

2) Frequency of use - our pumper right now has one can of old protein foam that we dont use because we dont even have the correct tip! Explaining the the commissioners, and the chiefs, why we are going to change our tune all the sudden, may prove to be tough.

3) unfamiliarity of the system - no one has ever seen the system in action before, and unfortunetly, no one in the area even has one yet. I'm looking for a department no more than 2 hours away from us to go and look at the CAFS in action. The manufacturer's are also having a tough time locating a demo that is equipped with CAFS

4) Foam usage - I have to secure some numbers showing that while using the CAFS system, water GPM is reduced significantly, and that a 20 gallon foam tank will last through X amount of water before needing to be refilled.

If anyone can give me some pointers, I would REALLY appreciate it!! Hell, if what you said gets me the CAFS, Ill send ya a t-shirt!!! Anyone in the area with CAFS , it would be great if you would be willing to let us take a looksie and shoot some foam. I'll bring some shirts for you guys too!!!

10. Price: faster knockdown = increased safety for FFs and greater possibility of succesful rescues. How much are your FFs and citizens' lives worth?

Frequency of use: every fire. We took out a fully involved car fire with a leaking gas tank with 133 gallons of water and less than a half gallon of foam. On a similar fire a couple months earlier, one of the engines without CAFS called for a 2nd engine (no CAFS), then had to have them turn around and hit a hydrant since the officer on scene told them they only needed tank water. 1500 gallons and 20 minutes later, they have to sit back and wait for a reverse lay to finish up the job. Details.

Ease of use: I can only speak to the Pierce Husky system, but I believe many others are the same. Operation is simple. The only extra steps are to 1) turn on air compressor (1 pushbutton), 2) turn on foam pump and choose foam tank (we have 2 tanks, so with 1 tank, no choice needed, just hit 'Enter' after turning it on), 3) turn on the air to the line being pulled. You can vary the kind of foam from milky water (for interior attack) to shaving cream (exposure protection) just by varying the amount of water flowing in the line. Normal Class A CAFS usage is .2% for us, foam folks say anywhere from .1%-.5%.

Foam usage: At that rate (.2%) you'll use 1 gallon of foam for every 500 gallons of water, so you'll move 10,000 gallons of water before you're out of foam. The Husky lets you draft right from the can for extended operations, as well as letting you fill the tank that way, so no more climbing on top to pour it in. We have 2 tanks, a 30 and a 65. We were going to run A & B foam, but the Pierce foam guy said 98% of the time you use A, and if it's that big of a Class B fire that using the A won't Git-R-Done, you'll need a truckload of B anyway. Also, considering the various tests done on water vs foam vs CAFS, the effectiveness is 1:4:10, so that 10,000 gallons of CAFS is as effective as 100,000 gallons of water.

We won't be buying any more apparatus without CAFS. The quint order just went it and it's got it. So will the next two replacement engines, and we're looking at retro-fitting the current 2 front lines out of the other stations as well.

11. wow BC, that is some absolutely great information you have provided me with. Thank you very much!!!

12. We have a FoamPro system on our engine. It is pretty much automatic. You have it pre-set and you turn a lever to pick class A or B foam. We pretty much use it on every fire with excellent results.

13. Some great info provided but I'd also talk to Geary Roberts at Waterous Pneumax who's the pioneer in the CAFS industry and he could provide you unbiased and factual information about the pro's/con's and advantages.

Go to Waterous's website and you'll find the link.

14. In asking around, I haven't heard any complaints about any of the CAFS systems, Husky, Foam Pro, Pnuemax, Darley. All are solid systems. Regardless of who's name is on it, make sure there is a system on your truck. Everyone may wave a different flag here, but I don't think any of us disagree on CAFS being an excellent suppression tool.

15. BC: just to let you know, I quoted you directly in my information packet that I will be presenting at the next meeting.

Fire Apparatus is a GREAT place for CAFS information! Graphs, statistics.

I haven't heard one complaint about a CAFS system yet. Speaking with an old timer tonight who used to be a Capt. at FDNY, he said he worked with it 20 years ago with FDNY when they were testing it and he was not impressed, feels its a waste of money.

He also said that it freezes alot quicker than water, is that true???

I figure the technology has gotten alot better in 20 years.

Thanks again for the info guys / gals!!!

16. If I had to choose between 750 gallons and foam, or 1000 gallons and no foam, I'd get the 750/foam

Heck, that's what we did.

There are a lot of naysayers on using CAFS on interior attacks, but most of the negatives I've heard have been a result of people not training with the system and/or having unrealistic expectations.

Tell them with 750 gallons/foam there will be a lot less need for that 2nd truck, which lowers the chances for an accident.

Foam:
Quicker knockdowns
lower rekindles
less water used
less runoff
less firefighter fatigue

17. ## Not Here................

We Put out Fires the old fashioned way, with water. I have nothing bad to say about foam, and I have to admit that I'm not really an expert on foam matters. Here, we simply don't have any need for it, or care about what a lot of us consider extra headaches. Anytime you add an extra gadget, you've added another thing that can malfunction. We've passed the top of the curve on some things, one of them being pumps. Although we still have a Single Stage pump on our new Pierce Engine ( www.gdvfd18.com ) it is rated at 1,000 gpm. There's simply no justification for buying a bigger one. Same with foam, just no reason to spend extra money on something that we don't need. And, my apoligies for not saying so sooner, water supply is not a problem here, we have all we need. As the point of "The guys who ride the Fire Engine needing one thing, the commissioners wanting something else", You need to change the system. Our apparatus decisions are made by the people who use that apparatus everyday, not the desk jockys.

18. Thanks, I always wanted to be quoted. Of course I was aiming for something along the lines of "It's challenging to do love scenes with Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Garner at the same time, but I thought it went well."

CAFS doesn't freeze at a higher temperature than water, it just probably does it faster at the same temperature since there's more air in the solution (lower density) so it doesn't take as long. Kinda like why bridges freeze before roadways.

Of course, being down here in Houston we don't need to worry about such things, for the 5 minutes or so it may be below 32 degrees during the whole year.

I agree with Harvey on two points: yes it's one more thing to malfunction, but like anything else if it's properly maintained, no problems. And yes, the guys fighting the fires need to be making the decisions. Either that or put the desk jockeys through a live burn and make them realize what it's like on the other end of the line.

19. Hey Harvey, nice looking truck. You forgot to turn it over in the oven, the top is overcooked but the bottom is still yellow. Maybe leave it out in the sun to ripen?

20. Originally posted by firefightergtp
BC: statistics.

I haven't heard one complaint about a CAFS system yet. Speaking with an old timer tonight who used to be a Capt. at FDNY, he said he worked with it 20 years ago with FDNY when they were testing it and he was not impressed, feels its a waste of money.

He also said that it freezes alot quicker than water, is that true???

I figure the technology has gotten alot better in 20 years.

Thanks again for the info guys / gals!!!

It's really refreshing to be reading such great comments about the CAFS technology, it sure wasn't that way not too many years ago.

There were way too many naysayers like the guy you mentioned with FDNY, I think back then those guys were afraid they might look silly squirting foam on a house. All they had ever heard of using foam for was to fight aircraft and oil well fires. I heard this same thing from the US Forest Service in the early years, in fact the director told the Head of the Texas Forest Service to stop putting foam on the forests. Ebarb told me to change the name of the stuff and don't call it foam, so we renamed the white stuff "Water Expansion System" that's when it became known as WES and WEPS, and a bunch of companies began infringing on the patents and claiming the Navys old Cardox foam pump was a CAFS so they changed the name of the WEPS to CAFS.

Since I've read these posts and no one has brought up any negeative comments about CAFS, I think it only proper that I have the honor of informing you that there IS ONE Negative, IT TASTES LIKE HELL!

Be safe, use CAFS.
Mark Cummins

21. Originally posted by cfire3

Since I've read these posts and no one has brought up any negeative comments about CAFS, I think it only proper that I have the honor of informing you that there IS ONE Negative, IT TASTES LIKE HELL!

Be safe, use CAFS.
Mark Cummins
Well Dammit, I will keep that in mind then.

22. ## Re: Not Here................

[QUOTE]Originally posted by hwoods
[B]We Put out Fires the old fashioned way, with water.

YesireeBob! water has been around a long ol time. But it's not only getting scarcwe in some areas, it's getting polluted in others.

Did you know that tests show 90% of the water you squirt on a fire runs out of the building and polluted with more than 200 toxic compounds, 6 that cause cancer and the others are nearly as bad and all that water is headed for the watershed or groundwater and ultimately winds up back in the drinking water.

Depending on how you set the CAFS up, there should be NO water run off and CAFS has been tested to show it's 90% efficient.

So it might be time to look your needs for water from a different angle. And as far as manpower, you may have all the guys you need at your fires but the weight of the CAFS hose filled with foam is so light it doesn't cause nearly as many exertion heart attacks as the olwater hose dragging tactic.

Water is great, it should be taken care of, or it will taste awfull too.

23. ## Uhhhh, I don't think so........................

Mark, thanks for the insight. As I stated earlier, I don't have a problem with foam, I just don't care. I would like to say that 90% of our water doesn't run off, I admit that I have no idea where that came from, perhaps a Department that pours water in windows at the Fire, instead of going right in like we do. Water is not scarce here, and I seriously doubt that it will become scarce in my lifetime. As to cancer and pollution, that's the price you pay for the life that you live. My employer, on the other hand, is big on Class A Foam, we use it, and I don't have any problems with that.

24. Most of our fire hydrants are 3 or 4 hundred feet from each other, and almost all of them are topped with blue paint. That being said I don't think we'll see CAFS in the near future. At least not with the cavemen we have around here.

25. Originally posted by TruckSkipper
Most of our fire hydrants are 3 or 4 hundred feet from each other, and almost all of them are topped with blue paint. That being said I don't think we'll see CAFS in the near future. At least not with the cavemen we have around here.
Point well taken, thanks for the comment.
Please let me ask a question to the forum, about future concerns and awareness of the environmental reasons for fire departments to be concerned about using large amounts of water to extinguish structure fires.

Is it important to be concerned with the toxic wasted water that runs down the street?

Shouldn't we be doing something about it if we could? If foam makes the fire go out ten times faster with ten times less water and the foam causes the water to be 8 to ten times more effective, are we not being negligent by ignoring the improvements and providing this to the citizens we serve?

Or is it OK to let the toxic water run down the street just because we have lots of it?

I think times must change to fit the growing needs. We have mandatory water rationing here in the Dallas Fort Worth area. But I am more concerned about polluting the water we have left.
We use CAFS, but not at every fire. Our CAFS truck is slower than the others (it's old and wore out). We hope to improve on this soon.

Be safe, use CAFS
mark

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