Article Archive
European industry embraces CAF systems
Volume 23, No. 3

In Europe, industrial fire brigades are beginning to pay real attention to the advantages of compressed air foam systems, in particular the One Seven? fire extinguishing system manufactured by Gimaex International, operating in Germany, France and now America.

In Germany, Robert Bosch GmbH, part of the Bosch Group, manufactures ABS antilock braking systems, the ESP electronic stability program for automotive braking systems, and sensor and ignition coils for gasoline engines at its Blaichach location. The facility is home to an eco-friendly 100-year-old hydroelectric power plant.

After extensive research, Bosch chose to protect its Blaichach facility with a new Gimaex TLFA 1000 fire fighting truck equipped with a One Seven? system. The system can produce 8,000 liters (2,114 gallons) of One Seven? foam using 1,000 liters (250 gallons) of water, 7,000 liters (1,800 gallons) of air and three liters (.79 gallon) of One Seven? foam concentrate.

Making air aspirated foam is largely a matter of hydraulics. However, compressed air foam systems merge hydraulics with pneumatic technology to produce a richer, thicker, higher-quality fire fighting foam and extend the reach of the unit's nozzle.

CAFS, long accepted as an important tool in wildland fire fighting, is gaining ground in other areas of the fire service, including industrial fire fighting. Aspirated nozzles create finished foam at the working end of the hose. By use of an eductor or direct injection, air is sucked into the nozzle causing the pressurized combination of foam solution and water to exit as foam.

With CAFS, the process starts much earlier. Foam is produced by combining pressurized air with water and foam concentrate at the unit's pump. When it exits the hose under pressure, the foam has a rich, thick consistency most often compared to shaving cream.

Compared to foam aspirated at the nozzle, CAFS foam has an almost microscopic bubble structure that makes it long lasting and able to stick to vertical surfaces such as threatened exposures. Energy from the air compressor greatly extends the discharge reach. Because the hose is mostly filled with air instead of water, it weighs less and is easier to move. Pressure loss due to elevation is drastically reduced. The system is also extremely economical as to the amount of water and foam concentrate used.

One Seven? is a highly efficient fire extinguishing medium using minimal volumes of water. By adding the unique One Seven? foam concentrate and pressurized air to the water, one drop of water volume expands to form seven foam bubbles. The surface area of a water droplet is thereby distributed on the surface of seven foam bubbles. The expanded surface area embodies helpful characteristics.

The One Seven? extinguishing foam has been effectively used in portable applications for years. The portable systems range in size, providing an appropriate system for any fire fighting application. More than one third of Gimaex employees are in volunteer fire departments, assuring a constant feedback of operational know-how, recent experience and comprehensive knowledge.

Gimaex's One Seven? is the combination of a specially constructed system and a specially developed foam concentrate. The foam concentrate is a micro-cellular, homogenous structure with reproducible characteristics that includes:

- A large surface area which provides a strong cooling capacity (-50 degrees F[10 degrees C]/sec).

- High energy content that provides high velocity and deep penetration. The slight surface tension and high penetrating capacity of the medium even at low mixing ratios produces a rapid and deep penetration into the fuel, cooling the interior of the fuel to prevent reignition.

- Adhesive properties that cool the fuel, not the flames.

- Strong wetting capability that penetrates the fuel.

- Environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

The One Seven? Class A Foam Concentrate was developed to have the best moisture penetration ability even at a low mixing ratio of just 0.3 percent. The Draves Test proves this highly effective moisture penetration. A one inch by one inch piece of canvas fabric is dropped into a foam solution with One Seven? Class A foam concentrate and is fully saturated in 28 seconds. Competing foam solutions take more than two full minutes to fully saturate the fabric with the same testing parameters.

Class B One Seven? (AFFF) foam agent has an additive rate of 0.5 percent. Class B alcohol resistant foam agent has an additive rate of 0.6 percent.

One Seven? has demonstrated that it effectively operates more quickly, with substantially less water consumption and practically without the usual water damage. It is ready for use quickly and requires no technical efforts by the operator. The design of the system guarantees a constant foam quality with simple operation.

At Blaichach, the One Seven? foam system was mounted on a four-wheel chassis with a compact wheelbase of only 3,620 mm (11.8 feet). The vehicle includes a 1,000 liter (250 gallons) water tank and a 200 liter (52.8 gallon) foam tank. That foam tank is divided into 150 liters (38 gallons) of Class A and 50 liters (12.5 gallons)of Class B.

Blaichach is not alone in choosing the One Seven? system. Rubber, plastics and chemicals are important for tire production at the Pirelli plant in Germany. Since 2005, the fire brigade at the Pirelli plant has used the One Seven system. The Pirelli fire truck integrates a 3,000 liter (750 gallons) water tank and a 200 liter (50 gallons) Class A foam tank with the One Seven system.

In 2006, the system was used to extinguish major fires in two separate supermarkets nearby, convincing the local municipal brigade to also purchase the system.


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