Capabilities and Limitations of Compressed Air Foam Systems for Structural Firefighting

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Compressed air foam (CAF) used for firefighting involves applying a solution of water and a class-A foam concentrate in a mixture with compressed air to control or extinguish a fire. In the 1970’s this technique gained popularity for use in wildland fire fighting, and in the decades that followed it was further adapted for fighting structural fires. This included it being incorporated into apparatus used by urban/suburban fire departments.

Over the years, however, the use of this technology for structural firefighting has not matured as had been anticipated. Despite generally favorable reviews on the overall extinguishing capabilities of CAFS, questions and concerns remain on certain performance characteristics such as operational tactics, maintenance, and reliability. Previous research on this topic has been limited and this project seeks to provide a comprehensive scientific study on the use of CAFS for structural firefighting.

Download the project summary. (PDF, 357 KB)