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Thread: Structural Foam Inside Roof Pillars

  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber rmoore's Avatar
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    Default Structural Foam Inside Roof Pillars

    I have heard of concerns for the flammability of structural foam used inside vehicle roof pillars but I don't have details. It is inside the pillars and frame rails on new model Ford pickups for example so in my opinion, by the time it melts and burns, you'd have a working fire on your hands anyway.

    One typical engineering report states the reason the foam is being used in the first place. "Engineers say the U.S. auto industry could greater utilize technologies such as structural foam, used extensively in the production of aircraft, and high-strength steel. Foam is cheap and easy to work with. The material stiffens and ensures that hollow steel beams donít bend or lose their structural integrity. It also absorbs energy during a crash."

    One real concern related to burning foam however is what would happen if we are at a crash and using a recip saw to cut through the pillar. Anytime we cut with the recip saw, it burns or smokes as we cut through the pillar. The rubber windshield gasket molding smokes, the plastic interior trim melts, the paints burns.

    My question is 'What gases are given off by this new foam? I don't know.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com


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    I suspect it be dependent upon the chemical components of the foam. Likely similar to other petrochemical products.
    Developer and Sr. Presenter, Team Xtreme
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    Great information. Our shift had a discussion on this same topic on new vehicle technology, Whats next. This is why I require a H2o can staged by the personnel performing the cutting operations in addition to the cover line provided by the Engine Company. Does Ford have any information that we can access? Remember check the trunk & rear seat area after a roof removal if Receps were used, we had a small fire in the trunk area from some drop down metal shavings. STAY SAFE

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    Forum Member fftrainer's Avatar
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    You know I saw that the other day in the F150 commercial. They show globs of 'stuff' in the frame rails and posts and then the entire frame was exposed to a flash of fire and all those globs expanded like that foam in a can insulation stuff.

    The claim was it makes for a a smooth quiet ride.

    2 things came to mind...

    1. Can you get fire extension into all these void areas and how does this stuff melt? Does it burn off or become a burning, dripping liquid? I know there are some folks out there that still believe a vehicle fire is an outside fire and SCBA is not required, but here's just one more reason why you need to be in FULL PPE... which means SCBA as well.

    2. My second thought was oh great another way to aid the driver in not hearing an approaching emergency vehicle. God forbid we get a little road noise interfering with the stereo!
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  5. #5
    Forum Member fireguy919's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFTrainer

    2. My second thought was oh great another way to aid the driver in not hearing an approaching emergency vehicle. God forbid we get a little road noise interfering with the stereo!
    You beat me to it. The big thing a few years ago when they started it was to make it quiter inside the vehicle.
    Training does not make perfect. Training makes permanent!

    IACOJ probie

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    If it's Polyurethane foam, you do not want to cut the stuff with a hot saw without a mask on. It will release toxic nasties (Isocyanates) which can irritate your skin and mucous membranes, and cause chest tightness/difficulty breathing. They're also classified as potential carcinogens. Overexposure results in asthma and other lung problems, and irritation of eyes, throat, nose, and skin. (Health effects paraphrased from osha.gov.) Also note that a lot of things in a car might have Polyurethane or other Isocyanate-based materials which can result in the same exposure when cut. Seats, carpet padding, paint, rubber, adhesives, etc. Note that cutting it with a cold blade is fine if you avoid breathing the dust in; it's the heat that causes the chemical reaction and releases fumes.

    Some poly-u foams are flame retardant, but I doubt that's a major concern since most everything else in a car will burn quite well. Note that I focused on this foam type because this is also what void-filling (i.e. liquid and expanding) foam types are based from.

    In case you want to know what you're actually inhaling, the main components of Isocyanates include:
    TDI toluene diisocyanate
    MDI methylene bis-phenylisocyanate (diphenylmethane diisocyanate)
    HDI hexamethylene diisocyanate
    NDI naphthalene diisocyanate
    HMDI methylene bis-cyclohexylisocyanate (hydrogenated MDI)
    IPDI isophorone diisocyanate

    Certainly not the stuff you want to be breathing in!
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  7. #7
    Forum Member FDWhitey's Avatar
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    This is the only thing I could find:

    http://media.ford.com/newsroom/artic...rticle_id=1905

    Whitey
    Situation dictates proceedure!

    Margate Fire Rescue Extrication Team
    www.fdwhitey.com

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    I suspect it be dependent upon the chemical components of the foam. Likely similar to other petrochemical products.

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    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    I'll throw in a couple thoughts. I question how much Stability a FOAM adds to the structure. Sound deadner? Yes? Corrosion enhancer? Most certainly. Getting thru it? Standard tools. What does it give off when burned? Without knowing the chemical composition I have NO idea but rest assured,I bet it ISN'T good. Bears further investigation. T.C.
    Last edited by rmoore; 11-16-2010 at 09:34 AM.
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