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Saturday
Dec142013

Foam 111-Storage & Compatibility

            Compatibility is an issue that requires clarification for many Foam concentrates. One tricky issue is between Cold Foam and Cold Water Foam. These are infrequently seen unless you respond in severe climates. However, the example is poignant. Cold Water Foam is specifically formulated for use when WATER temperatures are extremely low. This formulation allows the concentrate to easily and properly mix through eduction with cold water temperatures. Cold Foam is formulated for cold climate STORAGE. Compatibility terminology is critical as it is important to note that the minimum usable temperature of a Foam concentrate is not its freezing point. The minimal usable temperature is the “point at which the concentrate will proportion properly through venturi-type pick-up appliances such as line proportioners and pick-up type nozzles”. Between these temperatures the concentrate is not frozen, but may not proportion properly by these devices. This in turn affects all other aspects of a properly finished Foam blanket.

The materials of construction for storage and application of Foam concentrates also differ. Everything the Foam concentrate passes through or “Tanks & Appliances” can affect the final result. “Holding Tanks” and piping range from stainless steel to mild carbon steel, and must be matched for the style and temperature that you intend storing and deploying your particular “type” of Foam concentrate. The type of storage “lid” or top of your container can allow air to enter your storage tank and cause thickening or “clogging” issues. Galvanized materials should NEVER be used for any Foam concentrate service. NFPA 1901 addresses storage tanks for Foam concentrates and supplies the user with the optimum and advised storage recommendations. These should be followed for bulk storage operations.

There are number of considerations for all Foam concentrate storage that should be considered before systems are placed in service.

LOCATION is critical when considering a number of factors. The location should be accessible to all departments that may have access to the concentrate when they are not intimately familiar with your facility. This often occurs when response groups form “Foam Banks” or central depositories for all the members use of Foam concentrates. Manpower is an issue, when stored in 5 gal. buckets. All responders must have enough manpower to load these containers into various response vehicles. A 5 gallon pail of Foam concentrate weighs 43.5 lbs. Try moving these resources with limited manpower.

Storage TEMPERATURE is yet another factor. Always consult with your manufacturer for the storage temperature “range”. Depending on where you are located, exterior yard storage may not be possible, think Florida sunshine or Alaska cold. If an exterior range cannot be decided upon, realize that (inside storage) could complicate location, resources, accessibility all at the same time!

CONTAINER MATERIAL must be taken into consideration for Foam concentrate storage. If you intend on transferring Foam concentrate to containers other than the manufacturer’s original shipping container, NFPA 1901 must be consulted for the correct storage tank material.

The FACILITY is an operational issue. NFPA recommends having a quantity on hand, that is large enough to control your largest hazard or hazards that need to be protected.

Lastly, RAPID TRANSPORTATION is important to prevent an “out-of-service” issue. Does your distribution system have adequate quantity available to restore your depleted supply? How long will it require for this reserve to be replenished? Remember; every day you are depleted, means another day you cannot respond!

The expected SHELF LIFE of a Foam concentrate should not be confused with the Foam concentrates warranty. Most warranties are annual or longer. Expected shelf-life should be taken from actual field results of using customers. Most range from 15 to 30 years depending on a number of elements such as;

1] Contamination

2] Evaporation

3] Dilution

4] Storage Tank Materials

5] Extreme Temperatures

The best technique is to store your Foam concentrate, unopened, in its original shipping container. When stored in this manner, the expected shelf-life of Foam concentrate should be reached or exceeded. We recently sacrificed a sealed pail of our Foam concentrate for testing and found it to be good after 38 years of storage.

                                    Haz Mat Mike   

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