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Haz Mat "Specialist Course"
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Introduction to the "Foam Series"

            Foam continues to return to the forefront of fire suppression and hazardous materials response. Due to recent articles surrounding incidents such as the New Jersey Derailment and other hazardous materials releases that can be accessed via “you-tube” indicates the use and application of Foam not being fully integrated into Fire/Haz-Mat Command as an option. Foam precursors have been around before WWII where they came into their own saving many Navy lives during this struggle. Why the use of Foam operations on a frequent basis has not been continued, while innovation in this field continues to expand, is reason for great concern. The “reason” for the lack of implementation is not the point for the emergency responder. The “point” is that this tool should be implemented into hazardous materials and flammable liquid firefighting as a more frequently used “staple” especially seeing the continued reduction of manpower in the emergency response community.

Therefore; we shall embark on a quest to stress the benefits of this tool to the Emergency Responder. In the coming months we shall progress from the ground level of Foam understanding, to the implementation of Foam tactics on an emergency incident. Regrettably, Foam programs for the State of Michigan Hazardous Materials Training Center dealing with Foam Response, and Foam Systems Engineering were never delivered due to various political “issues”. These programs have been broken down into monthly elements for your Team Training. While you follow along this course “path” if questions should develop within your response organization, please do not hesitate to contact me via this website. I would be glad to assist you.

We shall begin our intensive study with Foam 101 or “What is Foam?” To fully understand the end result of tactical operations when dealing with Foam application, you need to “fully” appreciate the foundation of “Foam Physics”. This allows the student/fire/hazmat responder to grasp two (2) critical concepts.

1] If you know what is occurring, you know when application is correct

2] When application is incorrect, the "at" risk responder on the hose line realizes “first” when situational danger increases.

These two principles are the foundation of all emergency operations while at an incident. The first priority must be to keep responders alive. Every time a responder is “out-of-service” 1,000 civilians can no longer receive needed help or aid from this rescuer. This fact is conveniently ignored by most personnel NOT responding to emergency incidents. Therefore, it is the responsibility of your Incident Command to apply these techniques and tools to protect YOU while mitigating the incident in the safest possible way. This enhances personnel safety, civilian safety, infrastructure safety, property safety, and business costs.

The dual benefit of Foam use is two-fold. 1] Flammable liquid fires are extinguished and 2] Hazardous Material Vaporization from spills or unintentional releases are eliminated, removing the problematic aspect of civilian evacuation off-site. These two features are used to benefit society, infrastructure, the environment, residents, school children, occupied businesses, or any additional outdoor activity.

The basic concepts of this study series shall be;

1] What is Foam?

2] Polar & Non-Polar Solvents

3] Why Use Foam?

4] What is Foam Effective On? What is it Not Effective On?

5] Foam Terminology

6] Foam Tetrahedron

7] Foam Production

As well as additional elements critical to the “entire” understanding of the “Foam” process to mitigate fires and suppress hazardous material vaporization incidents. Join us on this intensive study dealing with the “World of Foam”. Next month we shall begin with Foam 101-What is Foam? I hope this series increases the safety of all your future responses.

                         Haz Mat Mike

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