Written by: Keith Lassen, A-Foam President
It’s been my experience that most firefighters do not have a solid understanding of how and why Class A foam works or how it can benefit their fireground operations and safety. This understanding is integral to both the acceptance of foam technology and the ability to properly operate both nozzle-aspirated foam systems (NAFS) and compressed-air foam systems (CAFS).
A firefighter’s basic foam knowledge should include:
- How and why Class A foam works
- Differences in Class A foam concentrates
- Environmental issues
- How to correctly operate the foam systems on their apparatus
- How to effectively apply Class A foam in a variety of situations
The misunderstanding concerning Class A foam is due in a large part to two factors: lack of proper foam education and training, and inaccurate foam information that has circulated through the fire service.
An organization has long been needed to address these issues and assist fire departments in determining how best to apply foam technology in their department and with their specific target hazards. Such an organization, the A Foam Authority, has now been established and is a very important organization for firefighters and fire departments that are currently using or are considering the use of Class A foam.
Establishment of the Authority
The concept of the A Foam Authority was conceived several years ago by a group of Class A foam users and foam industry leaders. It had a slow start, moving in several directions and working with a couple of other organizations to determine how it would be structured. In May 2011, the group decided to become a non-profit corporation. That process was completed in October 2011, and the A Foam Authority NFP was officially established.
The organization has a governing board whose current officers include:
- President: Keith Klassen (myself), Waterous
- Vice President: Rick Fix, Fire Research
- Secretary: Karen Reed Phos-Chek
- Treasurer: Al Kloha, Circle K Service
- Member-at-large: Dominic Colletti
Four standing committees have also been established to distribute and organize the work of the organization. The committees include Membership, Education, Technical and Marketing. Each committee has a chairperson and co-chairperson.
The costs of the organization to date have been covered by some of the major foam equipment manufacturers, including Waterous, which funded the start-up of the website; Darley, which funded the incorporation; and Hale, which has funded the marketing efforts. These industry participants are crucial to keeping the organization moving forward. The current dues structure requires dues for corporate members, however fire department members and individuals can join for free.
The “A” Objective
The purpose of the A Foam Authority as stated in the bylaws is “promoting education about the use of Class A foam for firefighting to emergency services professionals so they can better serve their customers and communities.” To accomplish this purpose, the Technical committee is currently sorting through information and articles submitted to them and will post only correct and accurate information on the website. This ensures that any information provided to organization members will be accurate and useful.
The Education committee is currently working to establish base standards for Class A foam classes and training programs. Once these standards are set, members can rest assured that any training endorsed by the A Foam Authority will provide the appropriate information. The committee will also organize and provide foam training resources to its members. Planning is currently under way to provide Class A foam symposiums in various locations, which will provide classroom education and hands-on training.
Along with providing education to firefighters, the group is working to identify opportunities to educate the leaders of emergency services, industry associations, communities and insurance agencies on the benefits of Class A foam technology. The Marketing committee has begun promoting the organization and informing firefighters of the services provided. The Membership committee is actively recruiting new members, both fire department end-users and industry manufacturers.
Become “A” Member!
The membership numbers are growing daily. Any fire department or individual firefighter who is currently using Class A foam, is considering using foam, or would just like to learn about the technology, is encouraged to join. As stated, membership to individuals is free as there’s much the organization can provide to you and your fire department.
All manufacturers of foam equipment and concentrates are encouraged to join as well to help build and strengthen the organization. Input from the fire service and the fire equipment industry is both needed and valued. Volunteers interested in participating on the standing committees are also needed. The more participation from the fire service the better the organization will be able to understand and meet the needs of the members.