Preplan a major incident in the WUI?

by Admin 13. March 2012 05:16

We are excited to publish another edition of FireIce Academy for our blog readers.

As we get prepared for fire season, we ask the question...  Can you preplan a major incident in the WUI(better known as the Wildland Urban Interface)?

The answer is absolutely!

We talk and train frequently on pre-planning of structures but how often do Engine Companies actually preplan for a Wildfire? Wildland Teams, HOTSHOTS, Forestry Divisions, etc. do this constantly but as the "First Responder" to this event are you really doing much more than putting the Wildland gear on the truck? WUI

How do you begin? This is not an exhaustive list and you have to tailor it to your region…

1) Begin at the station by preparing apparatus. Ensure that pumps work properly, tanks are full and extinguishment/retardant agents (FireIce) are ready to be deployed properly.

2) Check the Fire Weather Forecast for the day and print it out. It's good to keep a copy in the unit for later reference. It will also be of great benefit to be aware of any incoming weather fronts, which could drastically affect fire behavior.

3) Know your area! Know where homes are located including the most remote or isolated ones.

Locate natural breaks; lakes, streams, roadways, cleared land, and so on. This will aid in planning for safe staging, back-burning, and resource allocation.

Get accustomed to viewing your area on a topographic map or satellite images (Google Earth). Being able to make the connection between drawings and what is in front of you will allow you to get a better perspective on what is really going on and where you trouble spots are.

Know your water sources and how to access them BEFORE you need them. Plan for possible deployment of portable pumps or performing drafting operations.

Know where you will likely need to apply retardants or suppression agents (FireIce) and where you will need to station apparatus, in the event of an Interface fire threatening homes.

4) Get to know your State/Federal Wildland responders. Build a relationship with them now and learn what to expect from each another. Show up to the party with a coordinated game-plan.

5) Plan for "worst case scenario"! Just like with Hazardous Materials Response, look ahead and have a game plan for the "what if" situation. Know what resources you have available and build a relationship with them "before" the "Big One".

6) Make certain that your Wildland Gear is in order, shelters are in good repair, snacks and hydration are readily available and all crew members understand LCES (and how to communicate). Always remember your Standard Firefighting Orders and know what common the denominators are of Fire Behavior from tragic fires.

There are a multitude of other things that can be done to "Pre-Plan" for a Wildland Incident; however, if you aren't doing anything then this is a good start. Remember to "look to the sky", as well, when responding. Don't let a beautiful, sunny day fool you into a sense of security. Pay attention to tell-tale cloud formation, wind speed/direction, time of day, approaching fronts and topography.

Please add any additional tips you may have to Preplan for a Wildfire… Stay Safe!

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Changing Gears (Part IV)

by Admin 7. March 2012 04:54

"Are you Gellin'?....I'm Gellin'."


Well, thus far in our pursuit of Fire Suppression perfection, we have been presented a “veritable pantheon” (to quote Alton Brown) of foams, wet chemicals, dry chemicals, nozzles, eductors and bears! Oh my!  (Sorry, got on a roll there.  But I’m sure you get the point.)  We have spent the last century trying to find the perfect product for fire suppression.

We have definitely not failed in our endeavors.  I am quite certain that old Benjamin Franklin would be quite proud of our efforts and many of the resulting products.  Our best and brightest have continued to develop products better than their predecessors for the better part of the last century.  Which may lead some to question, “where do we go from here?”.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the future of firefighting is HERE!  (and if you call right now, we’ll double your order and throw in a special gift for free!!!  Ha, ha ha!.....okay, well, not quite.)

In the last three parts of the “Changing Gears” column, we have looked at how water performs its job, how foam changed what water can do and how dry chemicals can either stand alone or be used in conjunction with the other two.  In all of our studies, trials, triumphs and failures we have to remember one key principle….FIRE has not changed!  We have tried everything to fight it more effectively and more efficiently but fire itself has not changed.  Of course the fuels we are combating now are different and create another variable to be considered, that goes without saying (although, I just said it anyway…)

Fire still has four basic components that allow it to grow and thrive:  Heat (from any one/more sources), Fuel (the reducing agent), Oxygen (often the catalyst) and an on-going Chemical Chain Reaction.  As firefighters, we are taught that the removal of any one of these individual components will cause flaming combustion to cease.  We have also learned that water is still the best, most plentiful resource by which this goal is accomplished.

Dry Chemicals may interrupt the chemical chain reaction or smother the product (excluding the oxygen).  Foams have cooling properties and for B-class fires, can blanket the fuel, thus cutting off the available oxygen supply (however, water is still the primary component of foam solutions, so IT is actually doing a lot of the work).  The primary function of foam (whether A or B concentrates) is to reduce the surface tension of the water, making it lighter so it will either float on a fuel surface or creep into the pores/crevasses of solid fuels.

Agents such as Inergen, Halon or Carbon Dioxide have been used as “flooding” agents to displace the oxygen in a given space, basically asphyxiating the fire.  These agents do not fare well out in the open but serve a great purpose in preserving electrical and computer equipment.

With all of that being known…what is next?........

………..enter Fire Suppression Gels to the market!

Gelling agents are not exactly new to the fire service.  We have been seeing that “red stuff” (PhosChek) dropped from C130 aircraft for a few decades now.  Barricade hit the market hard during the Florida Wildfires of 1998.  Other new gels have reached the market over the last couple of years as well (i.e. - Tetra KO, ThermoGel and FireIce).  The gel revolution is here!  Now! We are no longer waiting for the next advancement in Fire Suppression technology.

Traditionally, Gel Products have been utilized for structural protection (medium and long term) or as a fire retardant ahead of an active fire.  This is where we have seen the utilization of U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Air Force aircraft.  For the past 3 decades, there has been a push toward “green” products.  The environment has become a deeper concern to everyone and the impact of fire suppression and protection products has come under harsh scrutiny by several organizations, including the Department of Environmental Protection.

Although gels have been around for a bit, they have not gained much notoriety in the mainstream fire service. You will be hard-pressed to find a municipal fire department which routinely carries a gel product in their arsenal.  It’s time for change!

Finally, gels are making it into the arena of Fire Suppression rather than being relegated to protection.  FireIce Gel (a Geltech Solution) has bridged the gap between being a retardant and a suppressant.  When utilized in different mix ratios, the product can easily work for both applications.  

(Author’s note:  As a fire service member for 26yrs and having worked as a Company Officer and Fire Instructor, I have had the opportunity to utilize most of the products on the market in live situations.  While, my intent is not to “bash” other products, I have intimate knowledge of FireIce, have used it in live fire settings and can attest to its power and efficiency.  My intent is merely to educate the reader, utilizing my own experiences.)

What is FireIce and how does it work?  It’s very simple!  FireIce is a powder product that when introduced to water, absorbs 400x its own volume, thus forming a gel.  The components are very simple: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Potassium.  It has been tested by the U.S. Forest Service (extensively) and is classified as safe for the environment.

FireIce is classified as a “water enhancer”.  Rather performing as a water “additive” with its own properties, FireIce enhances the properties that water already has.  By binding the water together into a gel form, the product has the ability to absorb more heat, more rapidly than straight water or even a foam solution.  In addition to the cooling effect, the product also adheres to the surface of combustible materials, excluding oxygen and preventing the off-gassing (pyrolysis) of the product any further.

It has been debated for years that the utilization of a straight or solid stream (which holds the water together longer, while reaching the seat of the fire) will produce less steam in the firefighter’s environment and make it the firefight more tenable.  It is a well-known fact that smaller droplets of water will vaporize more readily than larger droplets.  Due to the binding capability of the product and how the water molecules stay more intact while traveling to the fire, less water is lost on the way to the seat of the fire.  This translates into more water hitting the seat and absorbing the heat (while stopping further fire growth simultaneously).  This also means that less water can be used to extinguish the fire, due to the fact that we are not losing water to the atmosphere, prior to reaching the “real problem”.

Are there other “good” products on the market that will extinguish fire?  I would be a liar if I said there weren’t!  What I am saying is simple:  this argument can be likened to something we can all understand.  We all know things that are good but if we had our choice, we would choose something else that is better.  

Gels are still new to the mainstream Fire Service but they are getting around and being utilized by some departments, with great success.  The Fire Service is ever changing and WE don’t like change!  That is well understood.  I am part of the “traditional” Fire Service myself.  But, I have made this statement before, “I’m not telling you to throw out your Leather New Yorker or stop being aggressive firefighters”.  It’s simply time to open our minds (like our Father’s did) to new suppression technology.

There’s a NEW water in town……are you Gelling yet?

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Composting…SO Important For The Garden

by Admin 2. March 2012 05:49

By: Eliza Osborn

 Finished compostTo some people, composting is a totally boring subject, but to a gardener who is interested in increasing the production and beauty of the garden, it is a very fascinating topic.

So much has been written on “How To” that it can seem a little  intimidating. It really is easy, and so worth the effort.

I’ve found a site that is all about composting and has some excellent information. It breaks it all down and de-mystifies the whole process. Check it out at:

Thank you and happy planting!

Firefighters...U make the call. Size up the scene and describe your plan of action.

by Admin 7. February 2012 10:05

Hey FireIce Blog Readers! FireIce Academy is back in session…

You are the officer of an engine company and are enroute to a multiple vehicle accident with entrapment. Your crew consists of a driver, and two firefighters both are paramedics. Additional resources enroute are 2 Advanced Life Support Ambulances each with a crew of three and Special Operations with a crew of three all units have an ETA of 3 minutes.


While responding you observe heavy black smoke rising from the accident scene and what appears to be several explosions. As you arrive you discover 6 vehicles involved in fire including a tractor trailer of what is pictured.


Please size up the scene and describe your plan of action? Stay Safe!

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer


Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Changing Gears (Part III)...

by Admin 1. February 2012 09:46
“Drying things out”

Over the last 2 parts of this series, we have looked at water and foam extinguishing agents.  Before moving on to Gel Products (in the final segment) we have to take a look at another major player in the Fire Suppression arena:  Dry Chemicals.

While chemical agents have been in use since the 1800’s, Dry Chemical agents didn’t truly take hold until the 1900’s.  It is not hard at all to find an ABC extinguisher in close proximity to you, at nearly any time.  We have them in our homes, automobiles, public buildings, industrial complexes and yes, even on our apparatus.

Dry Chemical agents have definitely become a mainstay in the public and the Fire Service.  This is due to several factors.

1.    The works very well for small (incipient/ignition stage) fires.
2.    When used in proper quantity and application, by a trained individual, they work extremely well on flammable liquid fires (both large and small).
3.    Most agents are compatible to use simultaneously with straight water or foam, without destroying the foam product.
4.    Since they are mostly employed in small, handheld extinguishers, it is easy to teach a layperson how to operate and be effective at stopping small fires from growing out of control, in very little time.

A couple drawbacks of Dry Agents is that they can be quite corrosive if left on metal or painted surfaces, do not play well with electronics and they are MESSY and hard to clean up.  Once an agent has been discharged into a convection column, of any size, the light powder product is invariably carried into areas that were nowhere near the fire.  It is not uncommon for Firefighters to arrive the scene of a kitchen fire to find everything completely covered with a thin coat of yellow/green powder, no fire, and a homeowner saying, “okay, I put out the fire, now how do I clean up this mess?”.   

Dry Chemical agents contain properties that make them impervious to water.  They float quite nicely!  This characteristic makes them both naughty AND nice, at the same time.  This property allows the Firefighter that ability to operate Dry Agents in conjunction with water (utilizing a water stream to carry the agent to a fire that an extinguisher would not ordinarily be able to reach on its own).  It also makes for a bit of a clean-up nightmare.  Since it doesn’t “cling” to water like dust or other powders, it does not “wipe” up well with a wet cloth.  You can wash it away but….only to find that it has puddled nicely in some corner (not to mention, it is probably not a brilliant idea to “wash” down your kitchen with a garden hose.  That would be a mess all its own.)  
Monoammonium Phosphate is the most common dry chemical agent on the market.  It is sold in general stores and can be found in most businesses, offices, and even homes.  It is pale yellow in color and is used for A, B, and C class fires.  It is classified as a “multi-purpose” agent.  Its major disadvantage is that is the most corrosive of the dry chemicals and does make quite a mess when utilized in an enclosed space.  Its primary action is the “coat” the burning product, thus extinguishing the fire.

Sodium bicarbonate was the first of the dry chemicals and was developed to interrupt the chemical chain reaction in Class B and C fires.  It is not seen quite as often now, as it has given way to more effective agents such as Potassium Bicarbonate.

Potassium Bicarbonate or “purple K” is one of my favorite agents.  It is extremely useful on flammable liquid fires and is heavily utilized by the military and the auto racing industry.  Purple K is also often found in large wheeled units next to airport hangers and taxi-ways.  A major advantage of PK is the fact that it is very compatible with AFFF and is the only agent certified by the NFPA for that utilization.  While fuel-oil and chemical companies prefer PK for its ability to rapidly handle class B fires, the racing industry (i.e.-NASCAR) utilizes PK for both its Class B properties and the advantage of fighting fires on highly-heated engine and brake parts without cracking the metal (as would happen if water/foam were applied).

Over the years, Sodium Bicarbonate, which was once a preferred agent for kitchen fires has gone by the wayside in favor of other K-class agents, however, PK and Monoammonium Phosphate have remained in heavy use.

While the intent of this article is not to describe all of the various “dry chemical” agents or to give a complete history of such, it is the intent to put together a broader view of fire-suppression agents for the reader.  Dry chemical agents are not going away anytime soon.  They are effective means of fire control and affordable fire protection for the average citizen.  There are definitely times when the fire service should utilize them and they should not be overlooked.

Thus far, we have discussed water, foam and dry chemicals.  Now that we all have had a brief refresher on the basic tools of fire suppression, we have used for over a century, our next venture will be into the future of fire suppression.  Now that we understand where we have been and how we got to where we are to date, it’s time to look at the technology that will shape fire suppression in the future (and is doing so even today).

Till next time… safe out there!


Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

L.C.E.S. Applying a Wildland Staple to All Incidents

by Admin 24. January 2012 07:37

With all of the wildland fires going on in the U.S. right now, I decided to take a break from the “Changing Gears” column and focus on something a little different.  I will be continuing with “Changing Gears” soon (with the next segment on Dry Chemicals).

Most of the Fire Service is very familiar with the acronym “L.C.E.S.”, which represents: Lookouts, Communication, Escape Routes and Safety Zones. 

Lookouts Communications, Escape Routes, Safety Zones

It has been driven in to the minds of Wildland firefighters for a number of years and is a staple of Firefighter Safety in the wildland and Urban Interface.  While working on some other training post, I began to see how LCES could be applied to all aspects of our job.  That’s right, it’s not just for the woods anymore!  

We are constantly trying to re-enforce safety to our new and seasoned firefighters.  The training community is always looking for some way to get the safety message across and keep it in the forefront of the Firefighters’ mind during operations.  Well, why not use what they already know and teach them how to apply it in different aspects of the job?  

Let’s take a look at an example:

Structural Fires
Lookouts- Are they needed for something that is not moving?  Absolutely!  Walls come down, roofs collapse, smoke/fire conditions change, etc., etc., etc……..Being a lookout is the primary job of the Incident Safety Officer, however, EVERYBODY on the fire-ground is a “lookout”.  This is a crucial function that must be performed at all incidents.

Communication- Well, I shouldn’t have to even mention this one but….. yeah, I will anyway.  Communication is key to safety, incident management, logistics, and interagency cooperation.  The basis of the Incident Command System is proper communication flow, which is essential to the mitigation of any type of emergency.  A radio in the hands of a Firefighter, is his lifeline to help when in trouble or his/her notification of impending disaster.  Maintaining communication with crews operating out of the line-of-sight will provide a higher level of safety for those crews and better situational awareness for the Ops Chief or IC, in regards to what he/she cannot see. This is essential!

Escape Routes- We don’t normally see this as an issue at structural fires but it most definitely is.  Interior crews are constantly on the lookout for a way out.  You must be aware of where to go when things go bad.  Where are windows or doors located?  How about the exterior crew?  Do you have a plan for where to go if a wall collapse begins?  Is there an alternate route to safety? These (and others) are questions that should be considered at your next structural fire.  The fire may not be leaving the building but the building can “misbehave” very badly, in a number of ways.  Know what route to take to safety!

Safety Zones- This is another of those actions that we subconsciously take every time we pull up to an incident.  Where are we going to position the apparatus?  Where are our collapse zones?  What is a safe location for the ICP?  Where will EMS be placed?  These should all be considered Safety Zones!  Firefighters should be aware of places that are NOT a good place to retreat for safety, in the event of a catastrophic event.  They should learn how to identify safe locations for getting clear of collapse zones, changing SCBA bottles, etc.  

If we train our Firefighters to think this way, they will ultimately become safer workers and have a better understanding of what “full” situational awareness is.

Obviously, I only touched the surface of how LCES can be applied to something other than a wildland fire.  It is up to the individual, the officer, the instructor and the Chief to find other ways to employ a safety measure that we ALL already know.  LCES!  Use it your way!  Use it for LIFE!

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Wind Driven Fires should not be taken lightly...

by Admin 18. January 2012 06:41

Hey FireIce Blog Readers! FireIce Academy is back in session!

In today's FireIce Academy we are going to try and illustrate the fire condition of a wind driven fire. A photo is just a small snap shot of time and it is sometimes difficult to determine what is going on. Wind driven fires kill firefighters and should not be taken lightly.

Wind Driven Fires

Tests and studies have been done by many departments and NIST, but historically there isn’t anything as far as a live fire training program until now.

Please review the attached link which covers the history of WDF, studies that have been conducted by FDNY and NIST. You will also find how to build a prop and simulate a wind driven fire.

The author of the paper, Chief Ray Altman, is a well respected educator/training officer and is a good friend of FireIce.

History of WDF

Stay Safe!

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Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Firefighter Safety Reminders...

by Admin 4. January 2012 08:53

Hey FireIce Blog Readers! We encourage you to please watch this video produced by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in conjunction with Chicago Fire Department.


This video could save your life and ensure "Everyone Goes Home!!" Please share your thoughts after watching the video. Thank You and Stay Safe!

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer


Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

Changing Gears Part 2 - a fire suppression review

by Admin 14. December 2011 07:04

It's snowing in hell

Ahh foam! I can still remember the warm water splashing while Mom poured a capful of that wonderful soapy stuff under the faucet and making the bubbles pile higher and higher. oh, sorry. Wrong blog! Got lost there for a sec.

It's interesting to think that as children we were playing in basically Class A foam. Same basic principles at work there but though it is a bit ironic, we'll revisit that a little later in this article. For our purposes today, we should start at where foam started. Foam has been around for quite some time.

Foam was invented by a Russian scientist, trying to find an effective means of combating large oil fires, in 1902. The original formula was produced by adding dry chemical powders to water and agitating them until they became foam. Now, mind you, this was not the foam that we are accustomed to in this day and age. This concoction had more of a frothy consistency containing carbon dioxide bubbles. This new invention gave way to the chemical engines and, yes you guessed it, the sodium bicarbonate fire extinguisher (which had to be inverted to mix the powder and liquid to activate the reaction). We have ALL seen those "obsolete" extinguishers in flea markets and yard sales. Great timepieces they are. Good for modern firefighting? Not so much. It was found that it took far too much powder agent to fight large fires. This put the practice into history.

Throughout the 1940's, foam began to take a turn away from chemical agents and moved to "natural" products to create the finished foam. Soy-Protein was utilized to create Aerofoam. Animal waste was utilized to construct other foam agents, as well. These were better than their predecessor; however, still had problems with breaking down when exposed to fuels, heat or dry chemicals.

In the early 1960's, Fluoroprotein foam was introduced by National Foam, Inc. This latest development in foam technology had greater heat resistance and blanketing characteristics due to the oil-rejecting, fluorinated surfactant it was produced with. It also worked well when used in conjunction with dry chemicals and would not break down.

During the mid-1960’s, the U.S. Navy developed AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam). The surfactants in this type of agent make it ideal for covering static fuel surfaces. The foam, when aspirated at the nozzle, "bubbles up", rendering the water lighter and capable of floating on the surface of a hydrocarbon fuel. At the same time, the finished foam product drains a film across the liquid surface, sealing it from the air and preventing the fuel vapors from igniting. This is the foam product that most of us have come up using in the fire service. It is still used today and remains carried by most urban fire departments.

In the early 1970's, National Foam made another leap in foam technology by developing "Alcohol-Resistant" AFFF (AR-AFFF). Since alcohol has become so prevalent in fuel mixtures, this is generally the preferred type of foam to be carried by FD's.

While AFFF and FFFP(Film Forming Flouroprotein Foam) had taken care of the issue of fighting fires involving hydrocarbon fuels and other flammable/combustible liquids, nothing had really been done to increase our effectiveness at fighting Class A material fires. Many companies, such as PhosChek, had taken on the burden of creating reliable retardants but little had been done to augment the firefighter's arsenal in regards to the fires we normally deal with.

OKAY, HERE IT IS!! (the "bubble bath" thing)

Then along came Class A foam. Now we had a product to make the job of combating our "daily" fires a little easier. While Class B foams were aimed at making the water"float" on the surface of a liquid (with a lower specific gravity than water itself), Class A foams were designed with a "similar" characteristic.

Class B foams are usually proportioned at 3-6-10 or 20 percent. While in the hose itself, the surfactants mix with water. As this mixture leaves the nozzle, it is aerated (often with an air-aspirating nozzle). The surfactant/water mixture traps the air into bubbles, making the "finished foam" product capable of floating on a liquid surface. Once applied to the intended area, the surfactant drains from the “foamy” mix and creates a “seal” across the liquid surface.

Class A foams are utilized in a much lower concentration of .1-1percent. The goal of such a low concentration is not to make the water float but rather to break the surface-tension of the water, allowing it to "soak" to porous materials making it absorb heat deeper into the burning fuel package. This is basically the "bubble bath". Now, can you make a Class A foam "foam up"? Absolutely. If you aerate the mix it will look very similar to Class B foam. However, it will not last in this state very long. The bubbles of air are very fragile and will quickly burst, creating a milky-appearing mix, which is quite effective on Class A fires but will profit nothing on Class B. It can leave what it is dispensed on with a "slick" coating. This is merely the concentrate sticking to the fuel. We had that same film on us, when crawling out of a bubble bath, as kids.

In more recent years, newer foam agents have been developed which work in a different manner than "conventional" foams, such as AFFF. F500 has made a definite impact on the market. While the foams we are used to using require specific application methods (rain down, roll-on, bounce/deflection), F500 and similar products may be applied in these methods OR by plunging into the burning fuel. How is this possible? The action of F500 is to encapsulate the fuel molecule itself, rendering it unable to mix with oxygen and form a flammable mixture. This product has been utilized to clean pipelines out for just that reason. It takes away the fuel! This is a very good product (as I have used it myself for many years) and has won the favor of many departments in lieu of AFFF, for use on flammable liquid fires.

The Problem With Foam

Well I'd like to say that there is only one but,..there is a couple to consider.

First, foam comes as a concentrate and must be mixed with water somehow. To achieve proper proportioning, a proportioner (or eductor) must be utilized to make this happen correctly. Foam may be batch-mixed for some operations but if a specific effect is desired, the correct equipment must be employed. In conjunction with this problem, nozzles and eductors should be properly matched (gpm-gpm) in order to create the desired finished-foam product. The deployment of a standard eductor is an “added” step in the firefighting process, making it time-consuming.

Secondly, once foam has been employed to create a blanket, extreme care must be taken to not operate “clean” water streams near the blanket. Straight water destroys foam! The air bubbles will become burst or the blanket otherwise disrupted.

Thirdly, foam blankets are susceptible to the atmosphere in which it is applied. Naturally, a foam blanket will deteriorate due to drain-down (when the surfactant and water begin to naturally separate and drain away). The loss of a foam blanket may also be caused by wind, rain, or high ambient temperatures.

Fourth in point, is the fact that foam is still a water-based product. While foam products can assist in making the water lighter or decreasing surface-tension, the surfactants themselves are not the primary means of heat absorption. Water is still the means of taking the heat away. Air is a great insulator (as is proven by current PPE technology), however, when air is heated the molecules increase in activity. This is precisely why hotter air rises. As it rises, the molecules begin to take up more space by spreading apart (if enclosed in a container: i.e.- a bubble, this will also increase internal pressure which will eventually lead to rupture of the vessel or container). Therefore, over time (or if exposed to high heat) foam blankets will begin to break down in this fashion.


Now since we have covered water already, in the first segment of “Changing Gears”, I would be remiss to not mention that even though we may use less water in the total firefight, we must still flow the correct GPM to absorb the heat we are up against. Foams ARE water-based products and water IS the primary means of absorbing heat. If we miss that point and try to rely on the"foam" to do the work, we may be in for a harder fight than should be necessary. Remember, the "bubble bath" may have been fun but it didn't necessarily get us clean! It just made the process of getting there a little more tolerable.

Foams are and will be a part of the Fire Service for many years to come. As technology improves and our understanding of fire increases, newer products will (and have already) be developed to make our task easier. Foam has been a part of our repertoire for over 100 years. It is an enormous milestone in Firefighting History and has earned its place as one of the best advancements in firefighting technology.

My next installment to "Changing Gears" will be on Dry Chemical agents. I hope that you have enjoyed this segment and learned, at least a little more, firefighting history and how it has "changed gears".

I think I'll go have that "bubble bath" now... Be safe out there!


Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions

FireIce Academy Follow up

by Admin 6. December 2011 14:04

There are many valid and useful points that were made and some great firefighter humor as well. Most published documents on the net and even this forum are not designed to make you an expert on hazardous materials/WMD or on the regulations and standards that govern your response, but to help you become a more informed responder or perhaps make you stop and think. It’s not all about surround and drown or put the wet stuff on the red stuff… Stay Safe! As firefighters, EMS first responders, or law enforcement officers you all may have to respond to a Hazmat or even worse a WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Incident. Being prepared and having the formal training for this type of situation is paramount to everyone’s safety… The first order of business when faced with a Hazmat or WMD incident is to establish scene control zones, implement ICS (Incident Command System), and use the basic reference materials such as the ERG (Emergency Response Guidebook). Scene Control Zones or Control Zones are defined as “Areas at a hazardous materials incident that are designated as HOT, WARM, or COLD, based on the issues and the degree of hazard found there.” Are you familiar with NFPA 472 or 473? If not you need to get acquainted with the Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents. The ERG is a preliminary action guide containing information regarding over 4,000 chemicals. The ERG should not be used to create a long term action plan. Once an incident goes beyond 15 minutes the ERG is no longer a good source of information and you need to seek additional information regarding the materials involved and have the appropriate agencies notified. With the placards displayed in the photos agencies that should be notified immediately are County, State, and Federal Offices of Emergency Management, State and Federal EPA, State and Federal Centers for Disease Control, Homeland Security, HMRT’s (Hazardous Materials Response Team), and probably others… Get your crew away from the HOT Zone!! Get current weather conditions and a future forecast of weather pattern changes, set up perimeters and EVAC residential neighborhoods. Ensure your crew is wearing PPE’s. Try to identify chemicals involved by getting MSDS info or a site representative. Gather as much information as possible for HMRT and other agencies responding… Turn over command ASAP to someone who has a better working knowledge of these types of incidents.


By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer


Categories: FireIce | GelTech Solutions