Foam fire suppression is a type of fire protection system that uses a foam solution to extinguish or control Class B or ignitable liquid fires. Over the past few years, foam fire suppression, specifically AFFF, has received a lot of environmental pressure in relation to exposing per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to various water supplies.
What is AFFF?
Definition: AFFF stands for aqueous film-forming foam, a type of firefighting foam used to suppress ignitable liquid fires.
History: The US Navy first introduced aqueous film-forming foam in the early 1960s. Since AFFF’s debut, fire protection professionals have used the foam for various government and private sector applications for ignitable liquids.
Characteristics: AFFF is common because the foam’s fluorinated chemicals provide superior film-forming characteristics through their low surface tension and positive spread coefficient on an ignitable liquid surface, which seals the fuel from the air, preventing the release of flammable vapors.
Issues with AFFF
As previously mentioned, AFFF contains the “forever chemical” called PFAS, which has existed since the 1940s. PFAS chemicals are problematic because they do not break down and thus accumulate in both the environment and the human body. Due to PFAS’ harmful effects, many US states and the federal government have restricted AFFF’s use and mandated AFFF system removals by specific deadlines.
As a result, many organizations seek to remove AFFF from their facilities to reduce their environmental impact and protect their occupants’ health and safety.
AFFF Removal Process
The first step of the AFFF removal and replacement process is to evaluate the existing conditions and design criteria of the current AFFF system. From there, a subject matter expert will provide detailed design and specification requirements based on the current codes and standards. They will also offer guidance through the construction phase, from demolishing the existing AFFF agent and affected equipment to installing the new fire protection design. Please note that local requirements for the disposal of AFFF can vary from region to region, which is why it’s critical to have a fire protection consultant on-hand throughout this process.
There are various options for AFFF replacement, including:
- Non-fluorinated foam options that do not contain PFAS chemicals
- High-density water applications
- Alternate liquid containment systems
TEC consultants can help identify the most appropriate fire suppression system for each project’s specific requirements.
If your facility has one or more AFFF systems, please contact TEC for guidance on the process of removing and replacing it on your next project. We have the expertise and experience to help you understand and navigate the challenges of transitioning from AFFF.
Our AFFF-related services include:
Due Diligence Site Review
- Hazard analysis of what is currently protected by AFFF
- Facility assessments, water surveys, and analysis
- Provide engineered solutions for AFFF replacement
- Building/Fire Code compliance and gap analysis
- Demo plan of the existing system(s)
- Full design specifications of new replacement system(s)
- Full design services for foam fire suppression and fire alarm
- Licensed fire protection engineers in all 50 us states
Construction Administration (Commissioning)
- Construction support services
- System commissioning of a new replacement system
Questions? Please contact Megan Asbrock firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-252-9733.
About Telgian Engineering & Consulting, LLC
Leading the industry since 1985, TEC is a full-service global engineering and risk mitigation consulting firm specializing in complex, multi-discipline public and private sector projects. TEC provides professional services related to the protection of people, property, information, and organizational mission against preventable losses. Solutions include strategic/enterprise risk management, fire protection engineering, industrial security, environmental health and safety, emergency management, operations continuity consulting, and construction administration services. TEC professionals are dedicated to delivering value through effective protection solutions that meet today’s unique risk challenges. Contact us for immediate support at 1.302.300.1400 or email@example.com.