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Ing. Luc M.L. Jacobs: How can we achieve ICAO Level C?
Published:  10 November, 2009

Fire fighting foam performance criteria: (i) application rate, critical application rate, optimal application rate; (ii) foam concentrate design limitations (everything has to fit into the solution), possibly only AFFF can be designed for this application purpose; (iii) the extra environmental impact of such a highly concentrated foam Approval tests for fire fighting foams are small scale fires.

Various testing in the past shows the need for a safety factor. The best known is the one used by UL (5/3 of the test application rate). The purpose of a ICAO Level C foam is to extinguish faster with less foam. This would permit control (extinguishment) of the fire by the first intervention vehicle to arrive. All fire fighters working with foam know that if you cannot extinguish the fire, it is a waste of time starting the attack. However, in the case of an airplane crash, it could be enough to control the fire and rescue the people.

The foam will be used at its limit. When a fire fighting foam is applied below its critical application rate, it will never take control over the fire and will definitely not extinguish it.So the application rate applied during such an initial attack in aviation, should be clearly above the critical application rate. A fire fighting foam approval test should reflect this and demonstrate that the foam will operate when it has to.

About the speaker

Luc Jacobs was educated as an Industrial Engineer specialising in biochemistry and water treatment at the Katholieke Industriele Hogeschool Antwerpen (KIHA) in Belgium 1977-1981. His early experience includes working on waste water control for the municipal water supply company and for General Motors in Antwerp. He then joined the 3M Antwerp as a quality control chemist responsible for fluorochemicals including PFOS 1983-1991, becoming a Technical Service Engineer for Fire Protection Products at the 3M European Business Centre 1992-2003. He started his own consultancy in 2001 ‘Advice for Fire Fighting’ and has worked for Solberg Scandinavian since 2001 as Product and Environmental Manager. He has been closely involved in the research and development leading up to Solberg’s RF (rehealing foam) product. He has also contributed to many fire fighting standards as part of IMO, CEN and ISO, as well as locally in Belgium.