Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
Attack with Atila
Published:  03 September, 2014

After many years manufacturing and testing fire fighting foam concentrates, VS Focum in the north of Spain decided to develop a concept for a new foam that would protect tank storage farms in a safe and effective way – whilst using minimum amounts of water and concentrate. Managing Director Manuel Acuña explains the power of Atila.

The requirements for the development of the new foam were:

1. The foam had to be synthetic: to guarantee long product lifetime whilst maintaining extinction features.

2. It had to have a low Newtonian viscosity: to avoid the problems inherent with high viscosity pseudoplastics.

3. The foam had to be usable with a low percentage of concentrate (≤ 1%): to benefit from logistical (eg storage, transport) and economic advantages.

4. Be an alcohol-resistant, aqueous film forming foam (AFFF/AR): to achieve the lowest application rates possible on all types of fuel and water.

5. Be freeze-resistant: for flexibility of use in all weather conditions

The result is Atila: a 1% AFFF/AR foam that can be used at -15ºC and has freeze-resistant properties.

The first certification milestone for Atila was the award by the UK Civil Aviation Authority of ICAO level C at 1% and ICAO level B at 0.5%.

The foam concentrate Atila has been tested on different types of fires and fuels, at different percentages and with differing types of water, using low, medium and high expansion devices – all with excellent results.

In addition, Atila has been tested in comparison with a well known fire fighting foam concentrate AFFF/AR 1x3 that is commonly used in tank storage farms and refineries. The results have shown better performances for Atila - especially when decreasing the percentage and the application rates.

We can visually represent the fire performances of a foam concentrate using a double axis of coordinates. On the y axis we can include features such as control, extinction or burnback resistance.

Right x axis: percentage of use (%)

Left x axis: application rate (l/min. m2).

The result looks like a volcano, where the diameter of the ‘crater’, i.e. the distance between both asymptotes (lowest % and lowest application rate), measures the efficacy and the effectiveness of the foam. The foam with the smallest ‘crater’ is therefore the better one.

In order to guarantee a fast and safe extinction we have included in Atila a comfortable safety margin.  This means that even though Atila has been designed to run at 1%, it is still able to extinguish the fire al 0.5% at nominal application rate (EN-1568-3:2008, 144B (2.5 l/min.m2) and EN-1568-4:2008, 55B (6.6 l/min.m2)), as well as extinguish the fire at 1% with a reduction in the application rate (EN-1568-3:2008, 233B (1,61 l/min.m2) and EN-1568-4:2008, 144B (2.5 l/min.m2)).

These tests afford a safety margin as well as a reliable extinction process even with a reduction in dosage or an increase in the size of the fire, or with a lower application rate.

Atila meets the high-specification standard launched by ICAO in 2013, which sought the ultimate performance in fire fighting foam with the minimum of water. VS Focum is now driving that same paradigm into tank storage protection.