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Examination of Compressed Air Foam (CAF) for Interior Fire Fighting



Craig G. Weinschenk, Daniel M. Madrzykowski, Keith Stakes, Joseph M. Willi


Experiments were conducted to investigate the capabilities and limitations of compressed air foam (CAF) relative to water when used for interior structural fire fighting. The key outcomes were to measure the gas cooling and fire suppression capabilities of CAF compared to water. The experimental designs were developed based on a project planning workshop led by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Incidents where firefighters had experienced burn injuries or other challenges while using CAF during interior attack operations in residential occupancies served as the catalyst for this study. Full scale fire experiments designed to address those questions were conducted over a period of years from 2012 through 2015. The experimental arrangements and results are presented in this report. The results from both the gas cooling and the suppression of residential scale room fires showed the effectiveness of water and CAF hose streams to be similar. Under the test conditions, both agents were effective. This study did not address the previously documented attributes of CAF for improved exposure protection and improved prevention of a fire re-kindle relative to plain water. This study, conducted by NIST, was part of a larger research project led by California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo in collaboration with the Montgomery County (MD) Fire and Rescue Service. This study was supported in part by a DHS/FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Research and Development Grant.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1927
Report Number


compressed air foam, fire experiments, fire fighting, fire suppression, fuel load, gas cooling, structural fire fighting, suppression research


Weinschenk, C. , Madrzykowski, D. , Stakes, K. and Willi, J. (2017), Examination of Compressed Air Foam (CAF) for Interior Fire Fighting, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 13, 2024)


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Created January 22, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021