Apparatus Foam Systems Matched to User’s Needs

Fast Foam 50 system for Class A foam
The Odin Foam Division of W.S. Darley & Co. makes the Fast Foam 50 system for Class A foam, shown installed here. (Photo courtesy of Odin Foam Division.)
FoamPro’s systems
FoamPro’s systems measure water flow to determine the proper amount of foam to be injected into the system. (Photo courtesy of FoamPro.)
Rosenbauer EZ Foam system
The Rosenbauer EZ Foam system is designed to handle Class A and Class B foam on the volume side of N/NH series pumps. (Photo courtesy of Rosenbauer.)
Kidde Fire Fighting Inc.’s Gladiator nozzle with pickup tube
Shown here is Kidde Fire Fighting Inc.’s Gladiator nozzle with pickup tube. (Photo courtesy of Kidde Fire Fighting.)

Fire departments have a variety of choices available when it comes to apparatus foam systems—that is, those mounted on vehicles: around-the-pump proportioners, eductors, electronic direct injection, balanced systems, and automatic proportioners.

The choice of system depends on the department’s desires and needs, the kind of foam most likely to be used in typical applications, how much foam is to be carried in tanks, the type of apparatus carrying the foam system, and the tactics to be used in delivering the foam.

Scott Oyen, vice president of sales at Rosenbauer, says the company’s FixMix eductor-style foam system is used on the high-end stage of Rosenbauer’s N/NH series pumps and can be set up as either a Class A or Class B system on the apparatus.

“It’s most commonly used as a high-pressure system, ported through either turrets or booster reels that will handle up to 600 psi,” Oyen says. “Because it’s an eductor system, it can be set up as limited to the high-pressure side, so it doesn’t have to work as an around-the-pump system.”

Oyen points out when it is used as a normal pressure system, users have a choice of ½, one, or six percent foam, in either Class A or B. In the high-pressure stage, only one-percent foam is available.

“In a wildland situation, where you’d use turrets or the high-pressure booster reels,” Oyen says, “you would use high-pressure foam. But, in a structural fire application, you would go with normal pressure.”

Donley Frederickson, Rosenbauer’s national sales manager, says the company introduced its EZ Foam system last year, designed to be used on the volume side of the N/NH series pumps.

“EZ Foam operates on water pressure and has a piston that has one side filled with water and the other with foam,” Frederickson notes. “The discharge is adjustable for ½, one, or three percent for Class A foam and one, three, and six percent for Class B foam. It’s usable on any volume pump at a maximum of six percent foam concentrate.”

Dave Maier, design engineer for W.S. Darley & Company’s Odin Foam Division, says Odin makes several vehicle-mounted foam systems, from its Fast Foam 50 to the Fast Foam 250 and an around-the-pump system.

Fast Foam 50 handles only Class A foam at ½-gpm foam flow, is pressure-side-injected, and does not circulate on the suction side of the tank. Fast Foam 50, Maier points out, is designed for pickup-sized rigs and portable pumps.

Odin’s Fast Foam 250 is a 2½-gpm Class A foam flow, pressure-side injection that performs through a venturi, allowing for a higher percentage of injection.

The company’s around-the-pump system uses Foam Flurry, injectable at ½ gpm of foam concentrate—which works well with an aspirated nozzle. It currently is offered in Class A foam, although the company is developing a Class B injection system, Maier says.

John Moore, national sales manager for Hale Products Inc., says Hale has three apparatus foam units in production currently, with a fourth system—a high-pressure version for wildland firefighting—available soon.

Hale makes the model 2.1A, a strictly Class A foam system, that puts out 2.1 gpm of foam at one percent of foam concentrate for 210 gpm of finished foam. At ½ percent foam, the unit will produce 420 gpm of finished foam, Moore points out.

Hale also makes the model 3.3, which can produce both Class A and Class B foam. Moore points out that the model 3.3 produces 330 gpm of finished foam using one percent Class A concentrate, or 660 gpm at ½ percent. Moore says the unit can deliver B foam at up to 300 psi.

The Hale model 5.0 system can inject up to five gpm of foam, and at one percent foam concentrate it will deliver 500 gpm of finished foam. The three percent foam concentrate will give 167 gpm at one percent foam, while the six percent concentrate will put out 66 gpm of finished foam at one percent.

“Each of our systems can administer Class A foam from 0.1 up to one percent,” Moore points out. “For a brush fire, you might run at 0.1 or 0.2 percent foam, but for a structure or room-and-contents fire, you’d run about ½ percent. For exposure protection, you might run at one percent foam.”

The new wildland unit Hale is developing is called the model 1.7A high-pressure Class A foam system and will deliver 1.7 gpm of one percent foam concentrate, flowing 10 to 15 gpm of foam at between 250 and 385 psi, Moore notes.

Clarence Grady, Pierce Manufacturing’s applications manager for fire suppression systems, says Pierce uses the Husky trade name for its foam units, which have been around since 1996. The Husky is an electronically-controlled direct-injection system, now in the Husky 12 version used typically in municipal fire apparatus for Class A and Class B foam. Pierce also makes a Husky 30 system, usually applied in industrial applications.

“Our unit is a hydraulic drive that’s electronically managed, which determines waterway speed and then changes the foam pump speed to match the gpm being produced,” Grady says. “The Husky foam pump has an eight-inch stroke reciprocating cylinder that pulls in foam, then reverses and pushes it out through an ejection port. This means there’s much less tendency to air lock and allows the pump to go really slow for Class A foam so it doesn’t run rich in low-flow situations.”

The Husky 12 can produce 1,200 gpm of finished foam at one percent, 400 gpm at three percent, and 200 gpm at six percent, Grady says.

Grady notes that the Husky’s cylinder pump has been very successful. He says that 50 percent of the apparatus Pierce makes have modern Class A foam-injection systems on them of the same design class as the Husky—and that 35 percent of Pierce production pumpers have a Husky 12 on them.

This past year, the Husky 12 got a small-capacity sibling—the Husky 3, a miniaturized version of the technology, Grady points out.

“It’s moving well in areas where there’s not much need for Class B foam, yet it can still draft and self-fill,” he says.

Fill systems are gaining in popularity, Grady observes, with fire departments wanting to keep firefighters off of the top of their vehicles. He notes that big or small, every Husky unit has the ability to draft and self-fill.

Mike Dupay, North American sales manager for FoamPro, says one of the biggest challenges with any foam system is getting the foam into the water stream properly.

“FoamPro uses the measurement of water flow to accomplish that,” Dupay says. “The operator sets the foam injection percentage, and as soon as the unit detects water flow, it sends a signal to the system, which then injects foam into the water stream, depending on the flow.”

Dupay notes the FoamPro has back pressure and pressure balance systems built in, so that if a firefighter shuts down a nozzle bail, the flow stops, as does the foam injection.

“A common injection rate for an initial fire attack is 0.5 percent, so if you’re flowing 100 gpm, you’re injecting a half-gallon of foam per minute,” he says. “Generally, 0.3 percent is used for mop-up and one percent is used for exposure protection.”

Dupay notes that FoamPro makes systems to handle both Class A and Class B foam for the municipal fire market. The Model 2001 is a 2½-gpm system, the Model 2002 a 5-gpm system, and the Model 3012 a 12-gpm foam concentrate system. FoamPro also makes the Model 1600 for Class A foam only and the AccuMax line for the industrial market with a capacity of up to 300 gpm of foam concentrate.

“For our Class A and B systems, we have a control head tied into a valve leading to the Class A and B tanks,” Dupay says. “The operator can preset each tank to different default percentages, and each can be adjusted as needed during operation.”

FoamPro also offers two different refill systems—one mounted on the vehicle and the other portable.

Gregg Geske, CAFS and foam systems sales manager for Waterous, says his company began making apparatus foam systems about 10 years ago and now offers three families of foam systems: Fire Troll, Aquis, and Advantus.

Fire Troll is a low-pressure eductor system that can be inserted in the plumbing between the pump outlet and a live reel or other discharge point on a pumper. The Fire Troll-100 with one-inch plumbing can be installed on wildland Type 6 engines between the pump outlet and a live reel, allowing foam at that point without adding concentrate to the tank and running foam mixture through the pump.

Geske says the Fire Troll-150 with 1½-inch plumbing is adaptable to Type 3 engines as well as to portable pumps running long hoselays. Waterous tests have successfully used the system on hoselays of 1,000 feet over moderate to steep slopes, Geske notes.

The two Waterous Aquis systems are Class A units and come in 1.5- and 2.5-gpm variants. The 1.5-gpm unit uses a rotary plunger-type pump and can be dialed in to provide between 0.1 and one percent foam.

Geske says the 2.5-gpm model uses a programmable digital system that shows water flow, total foam used, and total foam mixture used and can be calibrated as needed. The unit can be set from 0.1 to 1 percent for Class A foam and up to three percent foam for emulsifiers (Class A/B).

The third Waterous offering is the Advantus system, available in three- and six-gpm versions, both of which handle Class A and B foams.

“The Advantus system measures true conductivity between the fresh water coming in and the solution going out,” Geske says. “It then will match the percentage of foam needed for the flow. It’s a truer measurement instead of measuring the gallonage going out on a volumetric basis.”

Both Advantus units can use up to six percent foam and can operate off of Class A and B foam tanks.

“The system also can take foam from an onboard Class A foam tank and pick up Class B foam from an off-board source,” Geske points out. “That’s a popular setup where the fire department doesn’t want to use up space on the truck for a second foam tank.”

Geske notes that the Aquis and Advantus units can been hooked to a laptop by a USB cable to allow an operator to get online to a Waterous service center for troubleshooting or downloading new software.

Frank Bateman, training manager for Kidde Fire Fighting, says his firm makes two versions of apparatus foam systems—a balanced pressure unit with an on-demand function and an inline eductor.

“Our inline inductor units start at 60 gpm and range up to 250 gpm for the municipal market,” Bateman notes, “although we have produced larger flows of up to 500 gpm for custom orders.”

Bateman adds that while other manufacturers make both Class A and Class B proportions, Kidde concentrates on Class A “because of the difficulties of keeping a Class B system in an operational condition.”

Kidde’s balanced pressure foam system incorporates a servo-type motor with an on-demand function that only pumps concentrate when it is required and only in the amount of concentrate needed, Bateman says.

“The unit speeds up to run faster or slows to run slower, depending on the amount of concentrate the system needs,” he says. “That makes the unit more precise and it doesn’t agitate the foam because it (the unit) only flows when concentrate is needed to be pumped into the system.”

Bateman observes that such balanced pressure foam systems are growing in popularity in the municipal fire market, being chosen more and more than eductors, inductors, and around-the-pump proportioners.

Duane Brinkerhoff, OEM manager for Williams Fire & Hazard Control, said his company makes the Advent foam system for the municipal fire market. Advent is a balanced pressure foam system that incorporates a modified bypass system that Brinkerhoff says “allows it to respond quickly and easily to the demand, much like a variable displacement hydraulic drive system would.”

The Advent system takes unused foam concentrate and returns it through a water cooler back to the suction side of the pump, using a heat exchanger to keep the concentrate from overheating when in a bypass situation. The foam pump is driven by a PTO, which helps to keep the cost of the unit down, Brinkerhoff points out.

The Advent comes in four standard systems: 12 gpm, 30 gpm, 60 gpm, and 120 gpm of concentrate flow. Brinkerhoff says that Williams has custom-built systems of 250 and 300 gpm for large industrial customers.

“The 12-gpm and 60-gpm are our most popular systems,” he notes. “With a 60-gpm on a 2,000-gpm pump, you can easily run three percent foam. And all four of the systems are Class A and Class B capable.”

Brinkerhoff says another popular Williams system is a self-educting, self-metering hydrofoam nozzle system, available in 1,000-, 1,500- and 2,000-gpm finished foam rates. He notes that the NFPA classifies it as a standalone foam system that screws on and replaces a deck gun nozzle.

“It’s selectable between one and three percent foam, takes foam from an onboard storage tank, can lift it out of a bucket or drum from the ground, and is automatic. So, you get a higher stream velocity based on the available water,” he says.

Williams also offers the WATP (Williams Around the Pump) High Head system.

“This system operates with the highest backpressure in the market—up to 33 percent in inlet backpressure,” Brinkerhoff says. “If the fire pump main discharge is operating at 100 psi, the suction pressure can be 33 psi. It eliminates the need to operate off the booster tank, so it can operate off of low-pressure hydrants, relay operations, or draft.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance writer. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.

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