Eau Claire firefighters show off PFAS-free fire suppressant

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Eau Claire Fire Department stopped using a traditional with a known chemical in it in 2019.

Thursday, firefighters showed off what they now use instead to put out certain types of fires.

They demonstrated an extinguishing agent known as F-500 at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Though the material puts out many types of fires effectively, unlike traditional foam, it doesn’t have harmful man-made chemicals known as PFAS.

Eau Claire Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Allyn Bertrang said all of his department’s in-service trucks carry F-500.

He also said firefighters don’t use it very often. Most fires only require water to be extinguished. Some blazes, however, including ones with flammables like gasoline and diesel fuel, as well as those with metals, need a more powerful compound.

Bertrang added in addition to not having PFAS, F-500 also attacks fires differently from traditional foam. Instead of putting a blanket over the fire, it strikes it a molecular level.

“It’s an agent that’s able to encapsulate the molecules and works very well in a lot of different ways,” he said. “Also works well as a cooling agent as we talked about during our demonstration. And that’s how it works in many applications to draw out the heat and the fire is extinguished in that way.”

Officials from the Chippewa Falls and Altoona departments were also at Thursday’s demonstration. They said while their department don’t use traditional foam anymore, they also don’t use F-500 yet. They want to study it more and see how Eau Claire firefighters use it before deciding whether to buy it or another fire suppressant.

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