News & Media

Class A foam training is A class

By: Leith Hillard

Category: Training & Recruitment

  1.01 PM 1 July, 2013

Location: District 13 News

Views: 4200

After three nights of theory and one night inspecting trucks and their hardware, the highlight of a recent train-the-trainers’ Class A foam course was a full day at Fiskville.

“It really sinks in when you’re shown something rather than told something,” said Captain Bill Boyd from Yarra Glen. “We used more props because we were also learning how to pass the skills on.

“We set hay bales on fire and attacked them with water and varied proportion rates of foam. The re-ignition just wasn’t there with foam.

“We watched foam slow the burn right down on plywood. You could see its potential if you were protecting a timber house.

“We attacked diesel and petrol fires. Within two minutes of foam being applied to burning tyres, the fire was all but out.

“I’m a bit of a convert now. We’ve got foam on our 2.4C tanker and I’m now much clearer about its use and the environmental limitations.”

Instructors Mark Barrile and Richard Cromb were on hand with ex-Captain Adrian Hem to guide the 10 new facilitators and reinforce the key question: is using foam appropriate.

“Crews must always consider where the foam runoff is going,” said Mark. “Class A foam can help rapidly control fires but care must be taken to avoid waterways, dams and organic farms. Be aware of use near structures such as processing factories that might be certified organic.

“The course also helped facilitators understand Class A foam tactics for uses other than bushfire. We stress that you never use it for an internal structure attack because it can cause rapid ceiling collapse.

“We’re normally limited in live fire training at facilities where we can use foams, but at Fiskville we could also do a Class A foam attack on a car fire. They could see that filling the vehicle with finished foam can extinguish all the materials inside – it reduces the need to get inside.”

As for taking the training back to his own crew, Bill is confident that he has the “runs on the board”. As a captain of seven years, he believes he can speak with a fair degree of knowledge and experience.

“You can relate the old war stories,” he said. “And now some new ones.”

Thanks to Daniel Lister for all photos.

Last Updated: 02 July 2013