Fire Prevention & Safety Research and Development Grants - 2010 Grant Awards

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Fiscal Year (FY) 2010

Fire Prevention Grant
Project Title:Investigation and Testing of Compressed Air Foam Systems for Structural Firefighting
Organization:California Polytechnic State University
Principle Investigator:Thomas Korman, Ph.D, P.E.
Grant Number:EMW-2010-FP-01369
Award Total:$940,571.00
Period of Performance:07/28/2011 – 07/27/2013
Grant Status:Active


Many fire departments throughout the United States have acquired and deployed CAFS (Compressed Air Foam System) for use in structural firefighting. Although the technology has many qualities that would be advantageous to firefighting, such as reduced weight of hoses and reduced water damage during fire suppression, concerns over the potential limitations of the technology with regard to safety of firefighters have curtailed its use. A comprehensive unbiased study of the performance of CAFS for structural fire fighting is needed to determine the conditions where CAFS may be used safely and those where it cannot.

This project will investigate the capabilities and limitations of compressed air foam systems (CAFS) for structural fire fighting with the aim of generating sufficient science-based knowledge regarding the effectiveness and safety of the technology for structural fire fighting.

A workshop will be conducted to gather input from interested parties about the possible performance and firefighter safety issues associated with the use of CAFS for structural fire fighting. This group will also provide guidance on the plan for the experiments to be conducted. The experiments will involve well-instrumented large-scale enclosure fires using both CAFS and plain water for fire suppression. Fire tests will include ventilation limited compartments such as an attic space or basement. Other tests will burn under conditions where the structure has horizontal ventilation opening such as doorways and windows. Fire ground evolutions will be used to evaluate differences between CAFS and plain water hose lines issues such as effective hose stream throw and distribution, forces needed to carry and move hoses streams both horizontally and vertically, and the forces need to kink hose lines.

Projected Results and Conclusions:
This project is expected to increase the body of knowledge regarding the safety and effectiveness of CAFS for structural firefighting. Information regarding the safety and effectiveness of CAFS for structural firefighting will be provided, so that firefighter can determine the fires where the technology can be safely used. The project will examine a wide range of potential issues identified by a workshop group for the use of CAFS for interior firefighting.


  • Cal Poly Receives Nearly $1 Million in Homeland Security Money to Evaluate Firefighting Methods, Cal Poly Report, August 17, 2011
  • Cal Poly's Fire Protection Engineering Program Receives Nearly $1 million in Federal Funding, Ceng News & Events, August 04, 2011 (Click Here)
  • Cal Poly Fire Program Receives $1 million Federal Grant, November 7, 2011 (Click Here)
  • Cal Poly Gets Federal Grant to Study Firefighting Methods, Synthia Lambert, August 3, 2011, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo


Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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