The overall concept of wildland firefighting is to stop the progression of fire and to protect exposures from becoming involved in the existing fire. Class “A” wetting agents, frequently referred to as Wild Fire Foam accomplishes this through the action of “surface tension reduction.”
It is this one principle of physics that allow the entire system to “function” towards its desired result. The wetting agent mixes with the extinguishing water be agitation and thus reduces or “breaks down” the holding water tension which allows water in its natural state to bead on surfaces. This reduction also allows water to better “soak-in” all organic materials, like; trees, vegetation, houses, and any other structure constructed of wood or woody fibers. This fact affords the protection of civilians and the environment.
Environmental concerns must also be factored into this equation for the local emergency response to be successful. Unessential vegetation that frequently serves as kindling to major forest fires must be reduced through the practice of land management. Just as game animal populations are reduced through the practice of seasonal hunting, so to, should vegetation be reduced when located near or around high hazard areas such as residential homes. Grasses in the western states are a major culprit. Grass should be kept cut to a short length that will greatly reduce the spread of a wild fire. In many cases grass control fosters the growth of other plants that regularly may not receive a chance to grow and prosper in that particular area. This can enhance the local environment.
Time is a large factor for firefighting applications. When wetting agents applied are used with a CAFS (Compressed Air Foam System) a shave cream consistency is created. This consistency gives the longest time affordable to the applied wetting agents on surfaces. This factor facilitates equipment use being able to apply these wetting agents while keeping ahead of the fire geographically.
When used by mixing with standard booster tank water from a fire engine in a municipality situation, the wetting agent gives faster and more though rough soaking of combustible materials that may or may not be organic. In this mode, inner-city fire departments can accomplish faster knockdown times in urban settings. Wetting agents, AFFF, or class “A” wild fire type Foams can be used in this manner. This results in one product deployed by a variety of techniques accomplishing two (2) different emergency incidents. This product shows its versatility under different conditions.
Wildfire Foams and Wettings agents can be applied using common eduction devices or through more specific equipment. Always use the correct proportioning device for the desired Foam effect. Using the wrong application device for the wrong type of use you want to achieve is not recommended and easily avoided with manufacturer instructions and a few training evolutions. Prepare well ahead of your emergency so your equipment choices will be the proper ones for the affect you want to achieve.
Haz Mat Mike