Flying fluoro-free

Published:  27 July, 2012

BAA Group Fire Service Compliance and Assurance Manager Graeme Day talks to Jose de Muniain about why the leading UK airport operator is currently changing to fluorine-free foam.

When did you start considering fluorine-free foam? 

In 2010 we realised that we were discharging a lot of foam during our annual calibration tests and we felt that we should start looking at a procedure that would comply with the requirements of CAP 168, Chapter 8 and reduce our impact on the environment. We had also received notice from Thames Water that from a specific date, regulations would prohibit us from discharging our existing fire fighting foam to the draining system at Heathrow Airport. Consequently we took the opportunity to look for a product that would meet both our operational and environmental needs.  The option of creating a holding area from where the run-off foam and water could be taken away for incineration proved to be time consuming and costly to achieve, so we decided to research fluorine and organohalogen free fire fighting foam products.

In addition, our existing foam contract was coming to an end so it was a perfect time to look at a less environmentally damaging alternative. 

Talk us through the process 

The first starting point was to ensure that all the products being assessed conformed to the requirements of ICAO level B. They also had to be fluorine and organohalogen free. We involved our procurement and environmental teams and received input from the Civil Aviation Authority during this assessment.  We asked a number of companies to confirm in writing that they met these requirements and then asked them to submit tender documents in compliance with our procurement process. We sifted through the entries considering operational effectiveness; environmental considerations; financial checks; Company history etc.

We then asked three organisations to present their products to our project team based at Heathrow, and following a scoring process took two products to CNPP in France for independently accredited tests, which were witnessed by the Civil Aviation Authority.

What did the fire tests reveal? 

We carried out operational effectiveness tests based on ICAO regulations for level B foam and both products performed identically. The operational data from these tests helped to inform our purchasing process supporting BAA’s procurement scoring and e-auction tools. 

Are you happy with the foam?

Purchasing a fluorine and organohalogen free fire fighting foam is a positive step for BAA RFFS because it means that we will have an operationally effective product that meets all our environmental requirements. It also ties in with the Civil Aviation Authority’s aim to reduce the overall environmental impact of aviation.

Do you have a view on CAFS? 

CAFS for ARFF is very exciting and I’m looking forward to getting ICAO’s view of the results of recent live fire tests [carried out with CAA, see last issue of IFJ] . If accepted by ICAO the aviation industry will be able to gain financially and operationally from the use of CAFS. (There have been developments since this interview took place: click here for ICAO reaction)

Would you recommend other airports follow the fluorine-free route? 

Yes definitely, and in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority we have already shared our experience with the ARFF community.   We have also spoken to the Chief Fire Officers Association about the potential impacts of Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services bringing foams containing fluorinated compounds to an airport that is using fluorine and organohalogen free fire fighting foam. Many Fire and Rescue Services are currently reviewing their foam strategies and we are encouraging them to start thinking about fluorine and organohalogen free  products.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Renka´s Fire Engine No. 1

Firefighting, fast, safe, everywhere. Michael Renka GmbH, based in Germany, is a manufacturer of firefighting vehicles, pumps and rescue equipment.

Waterax - We move water

Trusted by wildland firefighters around the world, WATERAX sets the industry standard by developing innovative, portable fire pumps and water-handling equipment designed to withstand demanding applications and rugged environments.

Big Water Flow for Industrial and Municipal Firefighting Applications

Protecting the lives of the public and firefighters while limiting the structural damage caused in large scale fires is our primary mission

We are committed to improving lives and doing business in the right way

We have a unique mix of capability and culture that we refer to as 3M Science and we strive to develop products that improve people’s daily lives in a multitude of ways.

HazSim - Bringing situational HazMat training to life

HazSim, LLC provides innovative simulation training to ensure your team works safely and effectively. HazSim Pro simulation equipment is in use by hundreds of fire departments, training schools, industrial fire teams, and private trainers across the US, Canada and further afield as well as the US Army.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems

Advancing rescue technology

The specialist supplier of quality PPE and Rescue Equipment to Emergency Services.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.