“Old School Foam”
With most of my department’s current pumpers, we have the capability of electronic foam proportioning. This has been an amazing improvement in our fire suppression capabilities. With an onboard tank of foam, it is a matter of pushing a few buttons to provide a properly proportioned foam concentrate to the fire stream.
I remember when we first started with foam, we were very concerned about the cost. Now, we have learned to recognize the savings it represents. We can stretch our water supply with a quicker knock down. It also has eliminated many of our return calls for hot spots. If your department does not use foam, let me take some time to explain its benefits. I will limit this to the topic of class A foam for time’s sake.
Think about washing your hands with just water. If your hands are very dirty or have a little grease on them, water will not do the trick. You add a little soap to the job, and they are clean! It’s like doing laundry without detergent. The clothes will not come clean. The surfactant (Foam) breaks up the surface tension of the water, allowing it to penetrate deeper. This is exactly what the foam is doing for us on a fire as well.
On a recent call, our electronic proportioner was not working. I recall hearing a newer firefighter saying “darn, we can’t have foam.” I grabbed an educator and connected it to a separate attack line. I recall saying “this is the old school way to make foam.” Less than three weeks later, there we were again. We needed foam for a trash fire and our tanker does not have an electronic proportioner. Members that were at the last fire quickly grabbed an educator and a bucket of foam. I took great pride as one of them turned to me and said “old school” with a smile.
Take some time to locate your foam educators. Determine the required PSI and GPM for them to work properly. This is very important. Since they only provide the correct proportions at a set rate. Practice setting the system up. You can use water in a bucket if you do not want to waste the foam. Training Objectives
Upon completion, the department should be able to….
• Discuss the advantages of foam.
• List the ways your department can make foam.
• Identify the pressure and flow rate of your eductors.
• Demonstrate setting up and flowing your eductors.
Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org