Chicago’s Snorkel Squads Carry New Foam Units
Photos courtesy of M-S-A
SOAP AND WATER, the all-purpose remedy for cleaning everything from kitchen floors to the back of Junior’s ears, is now being used to control fires. The soap is a special, nonirritating liquid agent that, when mixed with water, produces a wet, long-life, stable foam that expands to a ratio of 1,000 to 1. It literally smothers fires.
The Chicago Fire Department has been using this type foam generation in fire fighting for more than a year, and “It’s proved mighty effective,” said Lieutenant L. T. Galante.
He cited a Hour mill blaze early in 1964 when firemen were unable to get a cellar pipe into operation because of the intensity of the fire. Also, they were unable to operate from the first floor, because of the weakened condition of that area, and the possibility that upper floors might collapse.
The 75-by-100-foot basement was 12 feet high. Windows were at 10foot level. Firemen blocked off all basement windows with flour sacks. Roth of the department’s Foamaker systems were activated. Within a short time, the entire basement was flooded with foam. Each unit produced 2,000 cubic feet of foam per minute. This controlled the basement blaze, where the fire began, and enabled firemen to concentrate on upper floors of the structure where flames had spread.
Lieutenant Galante said the foam generators have been used many times, particularly in control of basement fires. He reported that the department has never used the system in a warehouse or similar type blaze. . .“but one, or both units if necessary, should prove valuable in this type of confined area fire fighting.”
One of the Foamaker units is assigned to Snorkel Squad 1 and the other to Snorkel Squad 2. These squads consist of hand-picked, experienced firemen equipped for any kind of fire fighting and rescue work. The Snorkel squads respond to more alarms than any other apparatus or station group in the city. Squads 1 and 2 are on call for all fires and foam generators are used at the discretion of the senior officer at a fire.