Glossary

    • Absorbent : a powder which can absorb a certain amount of liquid. The absorbing power is rated after the weight of liquid absorbed by a certain weight of powder. The higher the value, the better the absorbent will perform !
    • AFFF : Aqueous Film Forming Foam. This property enables the foam solution to create a film of water over hydrocarbon fuels.
    • Ageing
 : Refers to a laboratory process to measure long term storage and long term use of a foam concentrate. Generally used as a quality procedure to measure undissolved solids. Most relevant to protein based foam concentrates.
    • Anti Freeze : chemical blend designed to lower the freezing point of a watery solution.
    • Apparent density
 : the density of dry powder volume when compared with the same volume of water. Generally expressed in g/100 ml.
    • Appearance : dry powder is generally described as fine, free flowing powder.
    • Application rate : it is the calculated flow rate of foam solution to apply on a said surface to be able to extinguish, this can vary from 6.5 to 10.8 litres per minute per m2 depending on the standard. It is a key value to evaluate as application of foam to extinguish fire. Application under this minimum value will not extinguish.
    • AR : Alcohol-Resistant. This property enables the foam solution to create a "skin" over polar solvents resistant to its destruction.
    • Aspirated foam
 : the description of a finished foam generated through a nozzle or equipment that mixes the foam solution with air.
    • Bar : Pressure unit in Europe. 1 bar = 14.51 psi.
    • Base injection
 : discharge of a finished foam into a storage tank via an outlet near the bottom of the tank.
    • Biodegradation : capacity of microorganisms to break down compounds and digest them to transform them in CO2 and H2O. A high value of the ratio BOD/COD indicates a high potential of biodegrading of a compound.
    • BOD : BioChemical Organic Demand : it quantifies the quantity of oxygen to be used by micro organisms to digest compounds.
    • Burn back resistance
 : the ability of a finished foam blanket to resist the direct action of flame. In fire test situations generally measured in minutes.

     

    • Class A : a fire involving materials such as paper, cardboard, wood, cloth, plastics etc.
    • Class B : 
a fire involving a flammable liquid which could involve hydrocarbon or alcohol fuels. Both should be treated as separate risks or treated as an alcohol risk if fuel types are mixed (see fire classifications).
    • Class C
 : a fire involving flammable gas.
    • Class D : 
a fire involving a metal.
    • Class E : 
a fire involving the possibility of live electrical contacts.
    • Class F : 
a fire involving vegetable fat.
    • COD : Chemical Organic Demand : it quantifies the content of organic carbon to be degraded.
    • Colour : dry powder is generally coloured for identification and marketing purposes. ABC powder is generally cream or yellow in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia.
    • Compaction
 : compaction takes place during long term storage. This would occur in the original packaging or when stored in extinguishing equipment such as an extinguisher. Providing the product is in good order compaction will not effect performance.

    • Component : refering to the main active component of the powder. For example ABC 40 has approximately 40% mono ammonium phosphate.

    • Combined agent system : a delivery system combining both powder and foam.
    • Compatibility : it quantifies two different foam concentrates to be used simultaneously on a fire.
    • Concentration : this is the percentage of foam concentrate mixed in water to make the foam solution. As an example, a foam 6% will mean that we mix 6% of foam concentrate with 94% of water to make a 100% foam solution.
    • Control time
 : a somewhat subjective time given as to when a test fire has been extinguisher by 90% following foam application.
    • Corrosion : it describes oxidation phenomenon on metals. It leads to metal destruction.
    • Critical application
 : the lowest rate at which foam solution may be applied to extinguish a fire. Expressed as follows : litres / minute / metre2 or gallons / minute / foot2.
    • Dosing system : system which permits the dosing of foam concentrate at specified concentration.
    • Drainage time : it quantifies the time for a foam concentrate to release its water content
    • Droplet size : it is the diameter of the water droplet. Typically, the droplet size for ordinary spray is around 5 mm. High pressure systems can achieve a droplet size of between 20 and 40 microns.
    • Ecotoxicity : an evaluation of toxic properties of foam concentrate if dispersed in environment. The main criteria of evaluation are based on OEDC rules which characterizes the negative effect of a compound at a relative concentration over algae, fish and daphnia.
    • Emulsifier : surfactant which have the property of creating an emulsion between immiscible liquids to make a stable phase.
    • EN 1568 : European standard to classify foam concentrate. It is made of four parts;
      Part 1 : Classification on hydrocarbon fires in Medium expansion
      Part 2 : Classification on hydrocarbon fires in High expansion
      Part 3 : Classification on hydrocarbon fires in Low expansion
      Part 4 : Classification on polar solvent fires in Low expansion
    • EN3 : European specific standard for extinguishers. It covers all fire types such as A, B, C, F.
    • Encapsulation : chemical technique to incorporate a said chemical in a chemical cocoon and hide it. It is used a lot in pharmaceutical industry to delay the absorption time for therapeutic considerations. During oil spillages on water the same process is used to capture oil droplets.
    • Expansion : it quantifies the ratio of the volume of foam divided by the volume of foam solution (liquid). Expansion is strictly related to the type of foam and the equipment.
      • Low expansion : The value range from 5 to 20 ; typical application are nozzles and monitors.
      • Medium expansion : the value ranges from 20 to 200 : typical application are foam chambers and medium expansion nozzles.
      • High expansion : the value ranges from 200 to 1000 : typical application is high expansion generator.
    • Extinction time
 : the actual time given for complete (100%) extinction of a test fire following foam application.
    • Extinguishing effect
 : in the case of Class A,B, and C fuels, dry powder achieves extinction by attaching the free radicals present in the chemical reaction of the combustion area to the surface of the powder particles. In Class D fires, the high temperature of molten metal will fuse the powder, which in turn provides a barrier between oxygen and the fuel in the form of a stable crust.
    • FAS : Fire Attack System: specifically designed stand alone system for portable or fixed applications to attack fire with high knock-down efficiency with pressure ranging from 140 to 200 Bars (2000-3000 psi). See High Pressure systems.
    • FF : Fluorine Free; it means that the foam concentrate is totally free of perfluoro organic compounds - PFCs
    • Finished foam
 : the foam solution after it has been delivered via a piece of equipment such as a foam nozzle or foam branch.
    • Fire class : two systems are established, in Europe and in USA :

    American European Australian/Asian Fuel/Heat source
    Class A Class A Class A Ordinary combustibles
    Class B

    Class B

    Class C

    Class B

    Class C

    Flammable liquids

    Flammable gases

    Class C Class E Class E Electrical equipment
    Class D Class D Class D Combustible metals
    Class K Class F Class F Cooking oil or fat

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • Fluidity : this describes the powders ability to flow. Generally expressed in g/sec.
    • Fluorine Free Foam : foam which does not contain any Fluoro compound. See 3F product 'FREEDOL' Caution should be used when selecting a manufacturer as some quote their foam as 'Fluorine Free' while they still contain a certain amount of fluoro compound !
    • Fluorsurfactants : chemicals which are composed of a perfluorinated tail and a hydrophilic head. They exhibit extraordinary low surface tension and are practically not soluble. They withstand high temperatures. All these unique properties explain why they are used in foam concentrate.
    • Foam action: it can be evaluated by three attributes:
      • Mechanical : the foam covers the fuel and stops the oxidation of carbon materials with Oxygen
      • Chemical : the film forms over hydrocarbons and seal the surface from oxygen
      • Physical : the foam makes the water wetter: it spreads over surface, increase the cooling effect and penetrates inside the solids.
    • Foam branch pipe
 : a portable foam delivery device.
    • Foam compatibility with Dry Powder : this issue only refers to basic protein foam. This foam type is generally only used with dry powder that has not been treated with silicon oils. As a general guide more than 95% of all finished foams and dry powders are compatible.
    • Foam concentrate : concentrate foam liquid generally as delivered by a supplier in drums or bulk form, to be inducted or premixed with water in the following way. @ 1%, 3% or 6%
    • Foam monitor
 : a fixed mechanical foam delivery device.
    • Foam nozzle
 : a device that provides the final working to foam solution during delivery to the fire face. Normally associated with foam extinguishers or systems. The foam nozzle can be either aspirated or non-aspirated.
Foam solution A homogenous mixture of foam concentrate and water.
    • Foaming power : ability for a foam concentrate to create foam, in Low , Medium or High expansion.
    • FP : FluoroProtein Foam : typically protein liquor with a bit of Fluoro surfactant.
    • FFFP : a combination of Protein hydrolisate and fluoro surfactant to mimic the AFFF.
    • Gesip : French based independent standard for Oil & Gas industry. It is endorsed by Oil and Gas industry and recognized in most French speaking countries.
    • Glycols : a family of solvents which are wifely used in foam concentrate for their stabilizing and anti freeze properties.
    • GPM : unit for flow rate in US Gallons per minute
    • High expansion generator : generator which enables the introduction of air in foam solution to achieve expansion value from 400 to 1000.
    • High pressure : this is related to fire fighting applications
      40 Bars – 600 psi = acknowledged as high pressure in standard fire trucks.
      100/200 Bars – 1500/30000 psi : specific High pressure for high efficiency equipment.
    • Hydrocarbon fuel : fuels containing hydrogen and carbon atoms. (Heptane, Avtar, etc.)
    • Hydrophobic treatment : silicone oil.
    • ICAO : international standard for Civil airports. It classifies foam concentrate on kerosene fires. 3 levels are determined A, B, C.
    • Inductor : venturi device designed to induce foam concentrate into a fire fighting water stream.
    • Induction rate : percentage of foam concentrate induced into a fire fighting water stream. (1%, 3% or 6%)
    • Infrared : IR spectrum are used to give a ''fingerprint'' of foam concentrates. The chemicals reacts differently and absorbs IR at different length wave, giving a unique spectrum.
    • IMO : International Marine Organisation. IMO edit the rules for shipping, and includes standard to apply for fire fighting foam for shipping.
    • Interfacial tension : it quantifies the amount of energy to increase the foam solution surface over the interface liquid-liquid.
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    • LastFire : UK based independent standard for Oil& Gas industry. This standard is not related specifically to a country or a group of countries, but has been recognized by Oil industry as a benchmark for fire fighting foams on oil tank fires.
    • LPM : unit for flow rate in Liter per minute.
    • Miscibility : it quantifies 2 foams concentrate to be mixed together.
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    • Particle distribution
 : reference to the various sizes of particles present in the powder and their distribution expressed as a percentage.
    • Particle size
 : reference to the milled particle size of powder.
    • pH : it quantifies the acidity or the alkalinity of the foam concentrate. Foam concentrates have a pH ranging from 6 to 9/ Low pH means a n excess of acidity, high pH means an excess of alkalinity.
    • Polar solvent : water miscible solvents such as acetone, polar solvents require an alcohol resistant foam for extinguishment.
    • Pour point
 : the lowest temperature at which a foam concentrate can be used. This temperature is never as low as the freeze temperature of the concentrate.
    • Premix solution : a mixture of foam concentrate and water, blended and stored prior to use (the contents of a foam extinguisher is an example).
    • Preservative : chemical compound which prevents the decomposition of the foam concentrate by microorganisms.
    • Protein foams : these are based on protein hydrolisate.
    • Psi : Pressure unit in USA. 10 psi = 0.69 Bar.
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    • Refractive index : The refractive index is a dimensionless number that describes the reduction of light speed when it propagates through a homogeneous medium.
    • Residue
 : specific to extinguishing equipment. In extinguishers EN3 standard requires that the equipment does not retain more than 10% of the extinguishant following complete discharge of pressure. This relates to the powders ability to flow when compacted.
    • Sediments : it quantifies the amount of un-dissolved solids in the foam concentrate. Most of synthetic foams don't have sediments; protein foams have sediments, which are likely to increase on ageing.
    • SF : Solvent-Free : it means that the foam concentrate is totally free of solvents
    • Spreading coefficient : it is calculated from the difference from the cyclohexane surface tension and the sum of the surface and interfacial tension of the foam solution. It quantifies the ability to forma a film over hydrocarbon. The higher the spreading coefficient, the better the film formation.
    • Specific gravity : it quantifies the weight of a foam concentrate for a said volume.
    • Surface tension : it quantifies the amount of energy to increase the foam solution surface over the at the interface liquid-gas.
    • Surfactants : chemicals which have at least a surface active property. Surfactants are a collection of chemicals of more than 7000 compounds. The 4 surface active properties are :
      • dispersion power : to disperse solid compound in liquid
      • emulsifying power : to mix two liquid
      • wetting power : to penetrate liquid in solids
      • foaming power : to mix gas in liquid
    • Synthetic foams : these are based on surfactants
    • Toxicity : is the degree to which a chemical can damage an organism.
    • UL 162 : American standard for foam concentrate.
    • Vapour Suppressing Agent : foam concentrate which is designed to resist to the destruction by strong acid, alkaline or reactive chemicals. See 3F product 'STOPAL'.
    • Viscosity : foams can be rated as Newtonian or pseudo plastic.
      • Newtonian viscosity quantifies foams with viscosity depending only on air temperature. A perfect example is standard AFFF, which looks like water.
      • Pseudo plastic viscosity quantifies foam with viscosity depending on its agitation. These foams are rated as "gel" and are viscous.
    • Warranty : Foams are warranted for a period of time usually of 5 years or 10 years. The warranty is valid providing the product is stored in proper conditions:
      • not under direct exposure to sun and heat sources
      • Packed in original container and with a closed lid and unbroken seal
      • Stored in a previously perfectly clean and dry or new stainless steel, plastic or lined tank; the tank must be kept full all-time
      • Stored in a previously perfectly clean or new bladder tank.
    • Water repellency : this describes the powders ability to repel water. During the manufacturing process, dry powder is coated with silicone oil to promote this characteristic.
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