Since the time that the first organised fire brigades were formed, crews have understandably used water, the most readily available weapon in their firefighting armoury.
Water is, of course, an excellent fire-suppression agent, but at major incidents, a large supply is often rapidly needed and the subsequent considerable water run-off frequently causes environmental damage and demands a large and protracted concentration of personnel to support the firefighting tactics.
Historically, there seems to have been little consideration given to improving the operational firefighting performance of plain water even though in 1930’s Germany, an effective basic ‘wetting agent’ made from tree sap was evolved and developed.
In more recent times, a firefighting wetting agent which consists of a formulated mixture of plant saps called Cold Fire has been available in the United States, where it carries appropriate US fire industry accreditations.
Backed by recognised US testing and accredited credentials NFPA 18 and UL Classified Wetting Agent 2N75, Cold Fire’s performance has also more recently been endorsed by being independently tested at the world-renowned Imperial College London University (ICL).
After 400 hours of research into Cold Fire’s structure and its operational use, ICL’s Department of Mechanical Engineering found that Cold Fire used even at just 1% solution extinguished fires up to 40% faster than water alone – and also reduced the amount of water required to do this by two-thirds.
When used at peat and woodland wildfires, Cold Fire firefighting water even at low-solution levels penetrates and reaches the substratum far more effectively than plain water alone.
Research showed that Cold Fire utilises both enzymes and encapsulation during the extinguishment of a fire. Encapsulation removes the heat transfer between carbon molecules, simultaneously cooling the fuel source below ignition point (flash point) and immediately capturing harmful carbon from the smoke plume.
Professor Rein, of Imperial College London University commented at the end of the research project: ‘This “magical” suppressant could make it easier to put fires to rest for good. Fighting peat fires especially demands an incredible amount of work, time and water, and biodegradable Cold Fire wetting agent could help everybody: fire brigades, communities and the planet.’
The PhD Student at Imperial College London University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering who led the Cold Fire research was Muhammad Agung Santoso. At the conclusion of the project, he said: ‘This product could be critical in ending pollution-related deaths, devastation of local communities, and environmental damage.’
Cold Fire key feature and benefits:
- Environmental – When biodegradable Cold Fire is added to water, even at very low percentages, the water takes on new characteristics which enhance its overall efficiency, providing a single-use wetting agent that provides extraordinary extinguishing power to fight Class A, B, D and F type fires. By using less water, run-off is substantially reduced and much less smoke is released into the atmosphere, with less pollution into water courses.
- Safety – Cold Fire reduces the risks to fire crews in building and structural fires by cutting down the time firefighters are exposed to heat, high humidity and carbon from Class A, B, D and F type fires. Once sprayed on a surface, it prevents further flame spread.
- Financial – Cold Fire can deliver significant cost savings in operational front-line resources, time saving at incidents, and various other related benefits from closing emergency incidents more readily.
- Political – Cold Fire reduces the impact on local communities from drifting smoke, road closures, and allows Fire & Rescue Services to show that by using modern additives, they are taking the environment and cleaner air very seriously.
However, Cold Fire and its American origins have yet to penetrate the British Fire Service and other sector users, but with the increasing focus on the environment and personnel safety during firefighting operations, especially when dealing with wildfires, this is about to change.
By the time of the Emergency Services Show at the NEC held on 21–22 September 2022, it is anticipated that reliable supplies of Cold Fire with a full support and training service back-up will be available to fire and rescue services and other potential users.
For more information, go to www.priorityfireconsultants.co.uk