Departments upgrade equipment for foam firefighting
In today’s economy, many departments are postponing new apparatus purchases and keeping existing apparatus in service. A large number of these apparatus were built without foam capability. However, many of them may be candidates for foam or CAFS retrofits. There are two main reasons for a fire department to retrofit with compressed-air foam systems. The first is that the department wants to upgrade and take advantage of the benefits of the technology. The second is that the department may have purchased a new apparatus with CAFS and wants to bring the rest of its fleet up to the same capability. This helps to standardize operations throughout the department.
When a department wants to upgrade an apparatus to CAFS, certain criteria need to be examined to determine whether the vehicle is a viable retrofit candidate. These include the condition of the apparatus, the expected remaining service life, the apparatus power train, existing discharges, and existing foam systems.
The apparatus to be upgraded should be well-maintained and in good mechanical condition. A poorly maintained rig will require more time and will be more costly to retrofit due to additional work that may have to be performed. The apparatus also should have a significant service life before replacement is necessary, in order to make the investment in CAFS a viable option. To determine whether upgrading the technology would be cost-effective, divide the cost of the retrofit by the number of years that the apparatus will remain in service. A truck with only a 3- to 5-year life expectancy may not be a good candidate for a retrofit, while a truck with 10 to 12 years left would be.
Compressed-air foam systems are available in various configurations. The differences are the size of the system and how the compressor is powered. Compressor size ranges from 60 cfm to 200 cfm. Configurations include auxiliary engine-powered slide-in and cross-mount systems, auxiliary-powered compressors, and power take-off (PTO) systems.
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