CAFS for ARFF – important step forward

Published:  23 July, 2012

The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s proposal for CAFS on airport fire vehicles has been given the green light by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Last week ICAO’s Rescue and Fire Fighting Working Group met in Montreal (Canada) and the proposal was discussed to take advantage of a 30% reduction in water and foam.

The proposal was accepted which means the CAFS (compressed air foam systems) proposal will now go forward through the ICAO standards approval process, for an implementation target of November 2013.

It is hoped that the start of the formal process will serve to encourage manufacturers and airports to begin developing the use of CAFS for aviation fire fighting.

In May the UK CAA in conjunction with airport operators and specialist safety experts carried out tests to determine the effectiveness of CAFS on aviation fires.

The tests were based on an 80m2 fire tray with a replica fuselage in the middle of a pool of 1,500 litres of fuel. The results of the tests were captured by CNPP research staff and once collated will be made available to the wider industry.

Simon Webb who is leading the project for the CAA, said: “This testing was an excellent example of the regulator, operators and manufacturers working together for the common aim of improving safety in aviation. The results of this research have delivered a key objective of the CAA Safety Plan to encourage the use of new technology in fire fighting and will direct us on the way forward with the CAFS technology.”

The tests also found that the new generation firefighting foams, which do not contain fluorinated products associated with the problem of environmental persistence, performed as well as the currently used film-forming foams. Thus the results identify those types of products and systems which satisfy both fire-fighting and environmental objectives.


Simon Webb of the Civil Aviation Authority will be writing on CAFS in the next issue of Fire & Rescue, published week commencing 20th of August. An online version will also be published on Hemming Fire


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