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Dave's Notes
Ethanol Info Lacking

The Challenge:

Ethanol-blended fuel fires require an alcohol-resistant type of foam to extinguish a fire. Firefighters lack information that helps them manage flammable liquids using such foam products.

The Answer:

Research on foams lists the types of foam that work on ethanol-blended fires and the types that do not.

This issue of Industrial Fire World focuses on moving water and foam for extinguishing a fire. We are going to talk about the 21st century in firefighting foam, flammable liquids and the equipment that it takes to utilize this new technology. Due to all the new technology and the development of better firefighting, we don't get to do things the way we once did them.

The most exciting thing on foam is that the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition, which is made up of a number of national fire organizations and industrial organizations, finalized a report related to ethanol. It tells you the types of foams that work on an ethanol-blended fuel, whether it's 10% or 85%, and the ones that don't. This was not testing that showed "well, it almost put it out and it almost didn't put it out." These fires either went out or the foam didn't even touch the fire.

The foam testing was conducted under very scientific conditions at the Ansul fire research center in Marinette, WI. It was done to the UL162 standard, which is the standard for foams that flammable liquids are measured against. If you are going to have a fire of any depth - two inches or more, a tank truck fire, a spill fire, a tank fire, or a loading rack fire with a fixed system, the only foam to do 100% of the job consistently is an AFFF alcohol-resistant or an AR-FFFP fluoroprotein (FP) foam? as per UL162. These are the only two kinds of foams that will work.

As a result, we've got foams out there such as emulsifiers that won't even touch it. We have Class A foam - won't touch it. We have straight AFFF - it won't touch it. Fluoroprotein foams won't touch it.

When we went to the FP foam, we had to double the application rate and run it through aspirated sprinklers for it to work. If you are fighting ethanol-blended fuel fires, you've got to change to an alcohol-resistant type of foam. Don't let any snake-oil salesman tell you any different. If it says it's emulsified foam, it won't work. If it's just a mil-spec AFFF foam, it won't work. If it's just straight AFFF or Class A, it will not work. CAFs won't work.

Now, where are we going with this? This summer the project will be finalized, produced and distributed to fire departments and industry world wide. America's Fire Service will launch this program. Speakers at national conferences, articles in national magazines and other resources will spread the word. I think that everybody should pay attention and be ready. For a copy of the results from the ethanol fire tests, go to

With the new challenge of ethanol as a blending agent with gasoline fuels, the fire service needed some support. They don't have the grasp of flammable liquids since they don't do it every day. Well, there's an answer to solve that problem.

At the 2008 Industrial Fire World Exposition, we're going to have a session on ethanol and fuels. We will have actual live spills and live fires, and we will show the foams that work and the foams that won't work. You're going to see a lot of demonstrations of this in the next year or two. It's important because the foams you formally used on flammable liquids are not going to work in many cases. You need to be ready for the new challenge.

The 2008 IFW exposition is going to be held in Beaumont, Texas, April 28 - May 2 in conjunction with Industrial Safety Training Council and Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex, Sabine-Neches Chiefs Association and other local area organizations. This year we had one of the best conferences we've had in years. Almost 800 people attended, and we're going to have an even bigger and better one next year.

If your company is interested in the corporate plan where you can pay one fee and have all the people in the world attend under your banner, get in touch with Lynn or Kendra at our office. They will sign you up. This is a very unique opportunity for you to get a lot of excellent certification training from leading experts. See you next year!????????????????????????????????????????????? o


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