Firefighting Foams Are Useful For Class B Fires
Not all fires can be put out by water. In some cases, like grease and oil fires, water just spreads the fire around and makes the situation worse. There are a number of other substances that can be used to put out fires. One of them is firefighting foam.
This stands for aqueous film-forming foam. This foam gets sprayed on fires, specifically Class B fires, to put out the fire. A Class B fire is one that is fueled by flammable gasses and liquids, which would include tar, petroleum greases, oils, and solvents. Water would exacerbate fires fueled by any of those things. The foam is designed to be sprayed on the fire and over all the fuel. The foam will cool down the fire and it will coat the fuel sources. Completely coating the fuel sources helps to smother the fire because no oxygen gets in through the foam. AFFF and other firefighting foams depend on surfactants to help move the foam around so that it can coat everything. While AFFF can be really effective when it comes to putting out fires, it does have one drawback. It is full of PFAS.
PFAS is the acronym for per- and poly-fluorinated substances. This class of chemicals is often called forever chemicals. The reason that they have this name is that it can take thousands of years for these chemicals to even start to break down. They are toxic and carcinogenic, and they are found in every American that has been tested for them. They are extremely difficult to clean up, and since they are so widespread, it will cost a lot of money to try to get all the PFAS cleaned up.
FFF stands for flourine-free foam. It acts in the same way that AFFF does, but without the risk of PFAS. Because FFFs tend to be non-toxic and non-carcinogenic, they can be used to suppress fires in places where an AFFF wouldn't work. For example, FFFs can be used in food prep or food storage areas, whereas AFFF can't. FFFs are also a lot safer for the firefighters who need to use them to put out fires. They have a massive amount of exposure to the PFAS in AFFF, so any kind of firefighting foam that can replace it without risk the firefighters' health and safety is good.
While water can work really well on certain kinds of fires, there are other fires where it just makes the problem worse. In that case, firefighters need to have a tool that will let them put out the fire. Firefighting foams can do that.
To learn more about AFFF replacement foam, reach out to a provider near you.