Chief Jenifer Collins-Brown reports that the Topsfield Fire Department has participated in a government funded take-back program of pre-2003 firefighting foam in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Service and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The older foam was found to contain PFOA and PFOS that has contaminated groundwater and drinking water sources across the country. The Topsfield Fire Department had ten gallons of this foam which had been removed from our former 1984 ladder truck and in storage in our building. “We are grateful for this program to dispose of this product in a responsible and funded manner” Collins-Brown said. Foam is an incredibly useful tool for firefighting especially in areas where there is limited manpower and water supply. Firefighting foam is used for fire suppression, to increase the efficacy of water by breaking down water’s surface tension or using foam blankets to cover flammable fuels, keeping them from vaporizing and burning. It’s role is to cool the fire and/or to coat the fuel, preventing its contact with oxygen, resulting in suppression of the combustion. The type of foam used in fire suppression is determined by the fuel burning, be it Class “A” (ordinary combustibles), “B” (flammable and combustible liquids and gasses), “C” (energized electrical equipment), “D” (flammable and combustible metals), or “K” (cooking fats and greases). The 10 gallons turn in by TFD was a type of foam call Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF. This foam was originally designed to form a film over combustible liquids, blocking the vapors from escaping and creating a hazard. Not only was this foam found to contain carcinogens and other contaminants, but has also been rendered useless with the addition of alcohol into gasoline which broke down the older foam. Newer AFFF is called ARAFFF and has alcohol resistant factors. The Manufacturers stopped making the suspect foams in 2002, new foam now contains “more fluorine-stable and fluorine-free” components which cause less impact to the environment according to MassDEP.
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