Airports use fire extinguishing agents – and the proper personnel and equipment – to put out aircraft fires safely and effectively. Airports have historically used aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) agents to combat fuel fires. Unfortunately, the fluorinated substances that contribute to AFFF’s fire-extinguishing performance (i.e., perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS) also cause the agent to remain in the environment. Due to environmental and health concerns, FAA initiated a research program to identify alternate firefighting agents to replace the legacy AFFF products.
FAA is researching and testing PFAS-free formulas for potential airport use as alternatives to AFFF. New fluorine-free foams have shown potential to replace current AFFFs, but they have not been proven to possess equivalent fire-extinguishing capabilities.
At FAA, ATR leads the research to evaluate fluorine-free foams and develop standards for their use at airports. In addition, FAA is collaborating with the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency, sharing research data to help develop the new fluorine-free foam specifications.