FS Testing Post Initial QPL Status

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The QPL listing of 4/5/05 approves CF for helicopter bucket and ground engine applications. Since then specialized tests of CF with aluminum coupons has proven successful. Therefore the QPL was updated 2/6/06 to reflect conditional approval for fixed-wing air tanker and single engine air tanker (SEAT) applications. The remaining tests involved the evaluation of CF for magnesium corrosion (uniform and intergranular), a requirement for the fixed-tank helicopter application. CF is the only water enhancer approved for this application.

The Bureau of Land Management sponsors field operational evaluations for QPL listed water enhancers. The evaluations are on going during the fire seasons. The principal goal is to evaluate, and compare, the effectiveness of water enhancers, using aerial applications (SEAT) to support suppression tactics in grass, brush, and timber fuel types.

Some state agencies such as the California Division of Forestry (CalFire) support the field evaluation of products for the helicopter bucket and ground engine applications during respective fire seasons.

The author suggests there are really two aspects of a field evaluation.

  1. Experimental, as measured against preconceived and desired parameters.
  2. Direct visual experience (subjective) to observe and document observations; identifying special attributes, handling characteristics, field set up restrictions, adaptability to the various applications, operational and logistical considerations and lastly a valid overall comparative economical analysis.

Other Related Test Programs

The research laboratory of FM Global, one of the worlds largest property insurance and risk management organizations, has evaluated CF. They have found CF acts as a surfactant encouraging the formation of fine droplets when sprayed on a fire providing better cooling, good penetration and more rapid extinguishment. A special formulation is effective as an additive for anti-freeze fire suppression applications. FM Global found CF “has a remarkably high specific heat at temperatures between 32 and 68 degrees F explaining its good cooling properties.”

The CF enhances the water viscosity to a certain degree. Viscosity is significant for aircraft water drops to help hold a tight pattern of the water mix. FM Global also found that CF spreads very rapidly over surfaces of mineral oil and other liquid fuels. Thus they would anticipate that it would be a very effective extinguishing agent for Class B fires. These types of evaluations continue to enhance the understanding of the properties of CF , in this case by a renowned certification organization (formally Factory Mutual).

Rubber tire fires have been notoriously difficult to extinguish. In 2003 under the auspices of Underwriters Laboratory the Michelin Tire Company conducted tests to develop data relative to the fire protection of rubber tires stored on pallets in a warehouse. A typical warehouse overhead sprinkler system was used. Ceiling height was 30 feet. A test with water only was done to establish a reference point.

A one-minute average air temperature of 1,600 deg. F and a 1,000 deg. F for overhead steel structural components was the test criteria. With water only, the steel beam temperature above ignition exceeded 1,000 deg. F. Using an aqueous solution consisting of 3% CF the maximum temperature was 379 deg. F for the one-minute test.

Interesting to note that the water only test had to be put out using a fire hose supplied with a CF mix to prevent destruction of the test facility.
Fire Freeze the manufacturer of CF sponsored the UL testing in 2007 for extinguisher and sprinkler applications.

This test program was a result of the updated requirements imposed by the NFPA.

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