In cooperation with major organizations involved with alternative fuels, scientific testing and bulk fuel distribution and storage, the International Association of Fire Chiefs is a partner in the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC). The EERC was formed to look at emergency response issues associated with bulk distribution and storage of ethanol-blended fuels. The coalition has engaged in scientific testing to evaluate the effectiveness of six types of foam involving a spill or fire of a bulk container of ethanol or ethanol-blended fuel (gasohol).
The EERC-sponsored testing was conducted over a two-week period, starting in February 2007, at Ansul Fire Technology Center, in Marinette, Wis. Using the Underwriters Laboratory 162 (UL162) Standard for Safety, Foam Equipment and Liquid Concentrates, 43 individual tests were conducted on denatured ethanol (or E95), and E10 (gasohol) using the Type II, Type III, and sprinkler applications. The following types of foams were tested in the blind test (specific manufacturers and products remained annonymous).
- Alcohol-resistant, aqueous film-forming foam (AR-AFFF)
- Traditional aqueous film-forming foam (A-FFF)
- Class-A foam intended for fire involving ordinary combustible, or Class A materials
- An emulsifier
- Conventional flouro-protein foam
- Alcohol-resistant film-forming flouro-protein (AR-FFFP) foam
The results indicate that AR-AFFF was the only foam agent that successfully passed the UL162 tests against both E10 and E85/95. While some of the other foams may have some degree of effectiveness, depending on the situation and their application rate, the tests confirmed that AR-AFFF will be the most effective foam for fires or spills involving ethanol-blended fuels.
These tests are not intended to specify or recommend a specific extinguishing agent or extinguishing method, but rather to provide factual, science-based information about what extinguishing agents and methods were shown to be the most effective in combating fires involving ethanol according to the UL162 test methodology. The intent is to provide information that will allow emergency responders and others to make informed decisions about the foam concentrate they choose to use based on the risk in their community.
In addition to participating in the testing, the IAFC and the EERC are jointly producing a video documenting the test and a training package. It describes how ethanol-blended fuels are produced and distributed and the emergency-response issues that should be considered when confronting a bulk spill or fire involving ethanol-blended fuels.
More IAFC: www.iafc.org