Norfolk (VA) Fire Apparatus Uses More Foam

City of Norfolk firefighters have a new fire engine that is outfitted with a “compressed air foam system,” or CAFS, which uses less water and more foam to fight fires.

The new fire truck is a 2014 Smeal Spartan Metro Star Chassis fire engine, featuring a 1,500-gallon per minute pump along with the CAFS system. The new fire engine replaces a 1992 fire truck.

“CAFS is thought by many to be the most significant advancement in fire suppression technology since the horse drawn pumper,” said Tim Wragge, Norfolk assistant fire chief. “We can extinguish a fire more quickly at the same time reducing the damage that tremendous amounts of water can do to the involved structure and adjacent areas of the property not affected by the fire.”

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are many advantages to using CAFS, including easier handling of hoses with foam in them rather than water; reducing need to haul large amounts of water to a fire; and the capability of foam to reduce temperatures in a fire.

Test results comparing the use of foam and water have shown foam with a 3 to 1 more effective rate over water of extinguishing a fire.

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