Firefighting foam has undergone various transformations, giving rise to unique innovations. For instance, the aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) was a positive development in the firefighting industry. It was a necessary tool to battle dangerous liquid fuel fires at airports, military bases, etc.
But unfortunately, AFFF caused severe repercussions for human health and the environment. As a result, the quest to develop alternatives took over. Today, there are multiple substitutes for AFFF, but only a few are deemed effective.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the dangers of AFFF and the three energy-efficient alternatives.
How Harmful Is AFFF?
After being introduced in the 1970s, AFFF became the most popular fire extinguisher for dealing with fuel fires. That’s because this product was the only effective one at the time.
It contained a mixture of water and chemical compounds like propylene glycol and ethylene. Therefore, AFFF could create a solid foam coat on the fire to cool it down. This foam layer could easily cut off any oxygen supply and prevent reignition.
However, the manufacturers used a carcinogenic chemical called per-and-polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) in AFFF. This man-made forever chemical has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, developmental delays in children, hormonal issues, and more. PFAS can also stay in the environment for prolonged periods without breaking down, which contaminates the soil and groundwater.
Unfortunately, manufacturers like 3M, Chemours, and DuPont knew about these harmful effects. But they still used PFAS in AFFF to ensure the product’s effectiveness and generate profit. Due to this corporate negligence and failure to warn, many firefighters and their families suffered health consequences.
Thankfully, they filed lawsuits against the AFFF manufacturers for failing to warn them about the health hazards. This ongoing AFFF lawsuit aims to gather compensation for medical expenses, emotional distress, permanent disability, lost wages, etc. The victims also hired lawyers to help them gather evidence, understand the damages, and present their claims in court.
According to TorHoerman Law, plaintiffs need to provide evidence of their cancer diagnosis, employment records, medical information, and witness testimony to be eligible for compensation. The legal industry believes that the settlement amounts will range between USD 10,000 and USD 300,000 or more.
3 Fire Extinguishers That Are Good Alternatives to AFFF
Fire departments should get rid of AFFF from their inventory and choose any of the following alternatives. That’s because these are just as effective as AFFF, but they’re much safer.
Eco-Gel is a revolutionary fire extinguisher that uses a unique technique to fight fire. It has a water additive that can transform the liquid into a gel. This gel then creates a protective shield on the fire’s surface. As a result, it cuts off the oxygen supply and ensures swift cooling.
This fire extinguisher is non-toxic and biodegradable, making it the best green alternative to AFFF. Moreover, fire stations would love the versatility Eco-Gel offers because it’s 50% faster for extinguishing Class B and Class A fires.
Usually, Eco-Gel is highly effective in combating forest fires. Some even consider it a beacon of hope in the firefighting industry due to its effectiveness and sustainability.
#2. Fluorine-Free Foams (F3)
F3 is an eco-conscious alternative to AFFF because it can deal with high-hazard fuel fires without causing damage. This fire extinguisher does not have any fluorinated surfactants, making it environmentally friendlier than AFFF. However, it has the same effectiveness and applications.
When used, F3 creates a resistant foam blanket that adds a cooling effect to fuel fires. It can tame Class B and Class A fires without causing any hazards to nature. Therefore, it’s usually used in spill fires, industrial fires, vehicle rollovers, etc. Fire stations should use F3 because it creates a balance between fire safety and environmental considerations.
#3. Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS)
The composition of CAFS is somewhat similar to that of AFFF but without the harmful elements. It combines foam concentrate, air, and water to create a solution that is effective against fires.
CAFS can create a foam layer that is denser than that of conventional fire extinguishers. The elements then cling to the fire surfaces and ensure a swift cooling effect. This firefighting foam also meets stringent industry standards and ensures optimal fire suppression.
A fire station should have this product because it can efficiently extinguish harsh Class A and Class B fires, proving its versatility. For instance, most fire departments use CAFS to deal with structural fires.
In conclusion, firefighting technologies are ever-evolving. That’s why innovative and eco-friendly solutions to AFFF became so popular.
Fire extinguishers like Eco-Gel, F3, and CAFS are groundbreaking alternatives that don’t harm the environment or humans. The manufacturers engineered these while keeping in mind the requirement for suppressing flammable fuel fires without harming humans or the environment.