Picture: Robert Hut, HyTrans Systems, The Netherlands, copyright 2013.

Foam – What are the issues?

Published:  07 March, 2013

Why the timing is perfect for the Fifth International FireFighting Foam Conference, Reebok Stadium, Bolton (UK) 18-19 March 2013.

There is little doubt that the last twelve to eighteen months have been an exciting time for firefighting foams, which are still the extinguishing media of choice for life/death situations in high-risk environments such as airports and storage tank farms.

Many of the technical advances that have been reported and the issues that have been raised in the technical press (including this magazine) over recent months will be discussed. This will be an invaluable – even unique – opportunity for all sides to put their views and to argue their corners in front of an expert audience.

Even after so many years of foam usage, foam end-users remain (justifiably) confused by the oft-subjective sales polemic and rhetoric of the marketplace.

Can they believe claims made by some manufacturers denigrating competitors’ products? Should end-users take industry criticism of proposed regulatory changes seriously, or can this be dismissed as merely vested interest speaking? These are difficult issues for personnel who are responsible for saving lives.

But there are so many more questions. Is there such a thing as an environmentally-friendly firefighting foam? How can a buyer assess the environmental impact of using a particular firefighting foam?  Should organisations carry on using AFFF or try one of the newer fluorine-free products? And do the newer products even reach the required approval and performance standards as claimed by manufacturers or not, as maintained by their competitors?

And the questions still keep coming. Can we believe what manufacturers tell us at all? Should we be seeking industry-independent advice? Should we be switching to newer methods of delivery such as compressed air foam systems (CAFS)? How are we to view the changing stance of regulators in determining what is and is not allowed both as regards the environment as well as in aviation firefighting and rescue (ARFF)?

All these questions (and more) will be addressed by a range of international speakers at the Reebok Foam Seminar. It will be an excellent opportunity for participants to debate the pros and cons with other experts in the field.


Topics to be covered during the two days of the conference include:

•           How to assess firefighting foam performance using standard international test protocols – and who should carry out the tests;

•            Formulation of new generation AFFFs using pure C6-fluorotelomer compliant with the US EPA Stewardship Program;

•            Advances in foam technology, including solvent-free concentrates and a Newtonian fluorine-free foam;

•           The demands imposed by modern aviation and rescue firefighting (ARFF) and regulatory changes associated with this;

•            Satisfying the needs of the end-user and an ARFF Qualified Products List (QPL);

•           The MILSPEC specification re-visited;

•            Developing regulatory positions on the environmental impact of using foams;

•           The increasing use of compressed air foam systems (CAFS) for both Class A and Class B fires;

•           Foam strategies for large-scale Class B fires in the petrochemical and chemical process industries;

•            Civilian and military shipboard firefighting and ARFF;

•           High volume water and foam delivery equipment;

•            Specifying personal protective equipment (PPE) for extreme firefighting environments.

The Fifth International Firefighting Foam Conference is organised every two to four years as needs arise – can you afford to wait this long for answers to your questions? Sign up as a delegate at www.foam2013.com.

Conference program

Day 1

Introduction: CFO SteveMcGuirk, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Session 1: Problems ? What problems? Chairman: Ron Parry, formerly BAA.

Foam – Current Issues: Dr Roger Klein, Cambridge.

Interactions of Firefighting Foam with Hydrocarbon Fuel: Dr Chang Jho, Dynax Corporation NY.

Commercialisation of AFFF Containing C6 Fluorosurfactant: Steve Hansen, Solberg Foams, Wisconsin USA.

Use of Firefighting Foam – WA Environmental Regulatory Position: Dr Jimmy Seow, DEC, Western Australia.

Session 2: Regulation and Requirements

The Future of Foams in Queensland – Moving Towards the Inevitable: Nigel Holmes, Department of Environmental  and Heritage Protection, Rockhampton QLD.

Foam Testing – Getting It Right: Dr Niall Ramsden, RPI, UK.

Advances in ARFF, Are We on the Right Track? Mike Willson, Tasmania.

The Vernon 2012 ARFF CAFS Tests: Kim T Olsen, CPH Denmark.

Fluorine-free Foams,  MILSPEC and ARFF: Joe Scheffey, Hughes Associates.

Session 3 (afternoon): Application and Techniques

The End-User and a Qualified Products List (QPL ) for ARFF Use: Simon Webb, UK CAA & ICAO.

Advances in Foam Technology: Dr Thierry Bluteau, France.

CAFS for Class A and Class B Fires: Adrian Brown, East Sussex FRS and CFOA.

Foam Strategies for Large-Scale Class B Risks in Chemical Process Plant and Refineries: Mike Allcorn, Alert Disaster Control, Singapore.

Fixed Roof Tank Fires: Ewen Duncan, Williams Fire & Hazard Control.

An Air Force Out-of-Area Foam Vehicle: Kees Doncker, Royal Netherlands Air Force.

Ethanol Tank Fires – EtankFire Project: Henry Persson, SP Sweden.

Shipboard Firefighting and AFFF: Dr Holger de Vries, Hamburg FRS & GNR, Germany.

Day 2

Session 4: Personal Protective Equipment

New Generation Firefighting PPE: Kevan Whitehead, former Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

PPE for Oil & Gas Industries: Dave Matthews, FIPPE-UK.

Firefighting Glove Design,­ the Challenges: Jeremy Dawkins, Southcombe Brothers, UK.

Session 5: Foam generation and delivery equipment

A New High Performance Newtonian Fluorine-Free Foam: Manuel Acuña, VS Focum, Gijon, Spain.

CAFS Generating Equipment: Dirk Schmitz, Gimaex-Schmitz, Germany.

Environmental Profiling of Firefighting Foams, Defining ‘Green’: Thomas Leonhardt, Tyco Fire Protection Products.

Large Foam Applications, Practical Considerations: Gary Douthwaite, Hawkes Fire.

Water Treatment of Firefighting Foam Runoff: Implementation on a Commercial Scale: Romain Severac, DuPont France.

Comparative Testing of Large Mobile Monitors: Robert Hut, HyTrans Systems, Netherlands.

  • Operation Florian

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