Preparedness & Recovery

Lubbock Fire Rescue Tests New Biodegradable Foam

F-500 will cost less and can be used for different types of fires as well as flammable liquid spills.

by Lucinda Holt, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas / June 9, 2017
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(TNS) - Water, time and overall good health are necessities when it comes to fighting fires, which is why Lubbock, Texas Fire Rescue constantly searches for and trains with materials that can benefit the men and women of the department as well as the community.
 
Throughout the week, department personnel have been trying out a new product called F-500 — a multipurpose encapsulator agent — that will soon replace the current firefighting foam, Micro-Blaze Out.

LFR Capt. Kevin Ivy said while the current foam has been effective, F-500 will cost less and can be used for different types of fires as well as flammable liquid spills.

During the training, crews gathered at the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter Training Facility as a live fire training exercise was held in which a demonstration aircraft was set on fire and the foam was put to work.

The aircraft went up in flames with about 100 gallons of diesel fuel as crews stood back while three men worked to knock it down. Among the three was Jeff Bonkoski, North American market manager for Hazard Control Technologies, Inc.

Bonkoski, a retired hazmat certified firefighter, travels throughout the nation and Canada demonstrating his product to fire departments.

Having just shown the men and women of LFR a demonstration where he attempted to set fire to a gasoline and foam mixture he was standing in, he then moved on to the next task, extinguishing two fires while using the foam substance.

The flames shot upward with a cloud of black smoke and in a matter of seconds were gone.

The foam has been around for about 15 years, Bonkoski said, and the National Fire Protection Association has recently adopted a new standard that has made F-500 more versatile for fire departments.

According to the company’s website, F-500 can be used on oil spills and to suppress different types of fires including:

n Class A — wood, paper, tires.

n Class B — gasoline, diesel fuel, ethanol.

n Class C — fires with electrical energy.

n Class D — combustible metals.

Made of food-grade materials, Bonkoski said, the foam is 100 percent biodegradable and is non-corrosive and non-toxic to ensure users do not leave a footprint within the environment.

“We are (also) able to extinguish fires faster using less water,” he said. “We don’t create steam, which is one of the issues for firefighters because when you hit a fire with water it creates a steam blanket and causes steam burns. Some of the other things that we are able to do is we are able to reduce the smoke.”

He said the foam allows the fire to cool down quicker while reducing the amount of soot and carcinogens, which have been a concern for firefighters for many years.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a multi-year study of nearly 30,000 firefighters in 2010 to understand the potential link between the profession and cancer.

The findings showed firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths, with the chance of lung cancer diagnosis or death increasing with amount of time spent at fires.

Training will continue into Friday, before the foam goes into full use, and Ivy said everyone is liking the new product thus far.

“As long as it still gives us the same protection and capabilities that we had before, and if we can save money,” he said, “then, yeah, we will (purchase the new product) for sure.”

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