Going fluoro-free

Published:  04 November, 2011

Norwegian airport operator implements alcohol-resistant fluorine free fire extinguishing foam concentrate following a major procurement initiative.

Norwegian airport operator Avinor AS runs 46 airports and like all operators it faces the challenge of keeping control of costs while ensuring health and safety and quality of service are at the top of the agenda.

In 2010 Avinor established a working group to work on putting together a new set of criteria for the procurement of firefighting foam: ‘We were looking for a firefighting foam which met ICAO requirements and also presented as low risk as possible to employee health and the environment,’ remembers Nils Øyvind Andersen (Airport Operations).

‘We always work hard to try to run the airport in an efficient way, while taking into consideration health and safety as well as the environment (HSE).’

Nils comments that the use of PFOS has been banned in Norway since 2007, having been widely accepted as one of the most environmentally dangerous fluorine-based substances. ‘However other fluorine compounds that have replaced PFOS may have similar environmental impact as PFOS, so our intention was to improve the environmental performance of our next purchase of foam.’

Avinor’s working group made the decision to make environmental impact as one of the key evaluation criteria for the procurement process.

After signing secrecy agreements with the suppliers, Avinor requested a complete list of the ingredients used in the different products put forward for each bid. In addition, suppliers were asked to provide documentary evidence of environmental characteristics such as toxicity, biodegradability, and bioaccumulation etc. ‘The data formed the basis for an environmental risk assessment. The result of this process was a fluorine-free product with a good environmental profile,’ said Nils.

During last winter Avinor tested the foam in different weather conditions – including freezing winds and sunny blue skies– using cold simulators, full scale tests with heated simulators, and full scale tests on running fuel fires. ‘After an assessment of the analysis results we found that Dr Sthamer-Hamburg’s Moussol FF 3/6 met Avinor AS requirements,’ concluded Nils.

Below is footage of the foam tests carried out by Avinor:

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