Fomtec addresses suppression standards in transition to Fluorine Free Foams

October 7, 2023

Industry examines foam standards as the transition from PFAS foams intensifies

Fomtec, a leading name in the fire suppression industry, has delved into the current challenges and future directions in setting suppression standards, especially in the light of the shift towards Fluorine Free Foams (FFFs).

The comprehensive analysis was shared in an exclusive article in the International Fire and Safety Journal.

Shift from PFAS to FFF: A historical perspective

Historically, firefighting foams have primarily consisted of PFAS, a fluorochemical, with such foams accounting for over 90% of global sales by 2000.

Two properties of these chemicals made them highly appealing: their ability to repel fuel from foam bubbles and their role in creating an aqueous layer between the foam and the fuel, leading to “Film Forming Foams”.

However, with the increasing discussions on high-performance FFFs since 2010 and the realization that foams without fluorochemicals aren’t a novelty, the industry has begun reconsidering standards.

The standards previously revolved around PFAS foams, as most manufacturers followed similar formulation principles.

Challenges in the transition

Unlike PFAS foams, the formulations for the present-day synthetic fluorine free foams (SFFFs) vary significantly among manufacturers.

These foams demonstrate diverse performance across different fuels and application techniques.

This variation has led to skepticism, with many questioning their effectiveness.

Fomtec encourages such queries, emphasizing the importance of understanding the broader shift away from PFAS foams.

Testing and standard application

The right standard’s application plays a pivotal role in determining the foam’s efficacy.

Factors like fuel type and application type are paramount.

Most standards currently rely on a grouping system for fire testing.

While hydrocarbons usually employ heptane, water miscible fuels use IPA for alcohols and Acetone for ketones.

Future aspirations from Fomtec

Fomtec envisions expanded hydrocarbon fuel testing in the future and perhaps more fuels for water miscible testing.

The company’s ‘Enviro Programme’ is steadily progressing, having conducted over 1500 fire tests to date.

These tests aim to provide data-backed answers to questions about SFFF.

FSJA Comment

The shift from PFAS to FFFs represents a significant evolution in the fire suppression industry.

As global focus sharpens on sustainability and safety, the transition to alternative solutions becomes inevitable.

Fomtec’s thorough examination of the current standards offers valuable insights, highlighting the challenges and opportunities in this transition.

It underscores the importance of data-driven decisions, reinforcing the need for rigorous testing to ensure safety and efficacy.

This detailed analysis serves as a roadmap for stakeholders, guiding them through the intricacies of this industry shift.

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