And the bottom line is ... ? Cost is a relative thing that can create a lot of debate. Comparing apples to apples is a challenge. Competition among products must be evaluated from many aspects, including the intended application.

Performance.

  • The operators can only really judge field performance of CF versus a popular Class A foam. To date there does not seem to be a good demonstration comparison of products. One important aspect is of course, what does it take in terms of product percentage mix to represent the same success (same fire, same time to put out, etc).
  • If it takes a foam at I % (at $60/pail) to do the same as CF at 0.5% (at $120/pail) then it is a toss up, except for another aspect. The foam selected in this case is made up of fatty alcohol ether sulfates with diethylene glycol mono butyl ether (18%) and ethanol (8%). Of course exposure controls/personnel protection is necessary and care is needed to prevent the product from being washed into surface waters. The Hazardous Material Identification System (HMIS) rating is 1,2,0.
  • That is, a slight hazard to health and moderate hazard in terms of flammability.
  • The Cold Fire® HMIS rating is 0,0,0.
  • The performance of CF for a Class D (magnesium) fire (exceeding 5,000 degrees F) demonstrates its penetration and cooling ability for dangerous post fire situations such as bog or muck hot spots.

Mixed agent value
Assume the fire department has a rig loaded with 1,000 gallons of water on standby. (The 600-gallon brush truck is common for brush fires). It is the "value" of the water that counts. That is, the labor, energy used, other resources used, maintenance of the rig, overhead, and similar costs that gets the water ready for action, not to mention the cost of getting to the fire scene. Add 5 gallons of CF and the rig is ready to fight a brush fire where the water can then get the best "bang for the buck."

Examples of added value overlooked

  • For CF use, specialized personnel protective equipment is not required (barring the need for equipment to protect against the fire, smoke, etc of the fire itself and standard operating procedures).
  • The logging industry uses CF to reduce the premiums on their insurance (United Loggers Insurance Agency, Bloomburg, Texas).
  • Mullinax Logging was successful in getting equipment insurance underwritten by Lloyds of London as a result of carrying CF Units on board their equipment. Some products have expirations on storage and after time must be disposed of (and not down the drain). There are those in five gallon containers that must be "turned upside down" periodically to prevent "problems." CF that was stored over ten years showed no sign of stratification or other detrimental aspects, thus minimizing frequent inventory replacement.
  • Post operation clean up is a very important cost consideration.
  • Additives, like CF, make more effective use of limited water resources especially in rural or undeveloped areas. They minimize structural stress (and thus the danger of collapse), since there is far less weight of water being placed on the structure. They lessen the potential for water damage, and damage from smoke.
  • One can place costs on structure loss, people displacement, etc.
  • If a fire commander can stop a three-acre fire (using CF) from spreading to a sixty-acre problem-that has value.