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National Universal®F3 Green Selected as Foam Replacement for Connecticut’s Regional Foam Trailer Program

The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, in partnership with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), has been working closely in a cooperative program to ensure the safety of its citizens and the protection of its infrastructure by providing a firefighting regional foam trailer program.  Since the program’s inception in 2002, the trailers were stocked with Universal Gold 1-3% Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), which contains modern short-chain fluorotelomer PFAS compounds.

It is now widely known that per- and polyfluoralkyl substances, known as PFAS, are a large family of human-made chemicals that have been widely used in industry and consumer products since the 1950’s.  PFAS compounds have now been proven to have long-term adverse effects on both human health and the environment. 

At the request of the State Fire Administrator a work group was established to find a suitable fluorine-free alternative to replace the PFAS-containing AFFFs. The group was composed of fire service leaders from around the state, as well as personnel from DEEP’s Emergency Response Unit and Remediation Division.  The work group was tasked with determining the effectiveness of potential replacement foams. 

From the onset, the work group elected to use NFPA 11, the Standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Foam as a benchmark along with a focus on UL-162 GRGV Listed AFF Foams.  Further, it was decided that any replacement product be compatible with both polar and non-polar solvent materials. 

A number of fluorine-free foam (F3) products were reviewed and in some cases small scale test burns were conducted.  In addition, working in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), several of the products were independently tested by a laboratory to confirm they were PFAS and halogen-free.  In the end, the decision of the work group was to recommend National Universal®F3 Green be the foam selected to replace the PFAS-containing foam utilized in the state’s Regional Foam Trailers.

It is important to note that there were other fluorine-free products reviewed that showed favorable results and underwent independent laboratory analyses.  Information on these products will be released in the near future.           

Planning for a state-funded AFFF Take Back program to assist fire departments statewide in removing both legacy PFAS and modern fluorotelomer foams from their inventory is underway and details are expected to be announced soon.  The initial stage of the program will focus on taking back PFAS-containing foams stored in portable containers.  A next phase of the Take Back program will look to address foam tanks on fire apparatus.       

If departments have already purchased fluorine-free replacement products, it is recommended that the new foam not be introduced into an apparatus foam tank until after the decontamination process.  Studies have shown that a simple rinse is not effective and the residual PFAS compounds will contaminate the new foam.  If possible, it is recommended when deploying PFAS-free foam, the departments operate with portable foam eductors from buckets until the Take Back and decontamination processes are complete.  It is further recognized that a municipality must also remain operationally ready, and PFAS containing foam may be needed for vapor suppression or fire extinguishment for a flammable or combustible liquid emergency. If this is required, then the foam application should be in concert with the original Foam Advisory Bulletin issued in June, 2019 available at: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/CFPC/Foam-Guidance---Final-SPedits-Clean-2019-06-24.pdf.