Tuesday, May 23, 2000

New Norwood fire pumper limits water damage

First in Tristate uses foam, air mix

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — A new state-of-the-art fire pumper that reduces property damage by using a combination of water, chemical foam and compressed air was put into service Monday.

        Assistant Fire Chief Mike Raleigh said the $380,000 truck is ready and firefight ers are being trained to use it.

        “There are only four or five of these in the state, and one of those is at the State Fire Academy. There are no others to my knowledge in Greater Cincinnati,” Assistant Chief Raleigh said.

        The pumper, manufactured by Seagrave in Wisconsin, cost about $50,000 more than a standard pumper. It was ordered about 18 months ago and received by the city April 17.

        It will be an asset in Norwood because the city is in an urban setting with older residential areas of wood construction with many of historic architectural significance. There are a large number of multiunit buildings of two and three stories, plus office and commercial districts, officials said.

        The assistant chief said pumpers throughout the area are commonly equipped to carry about 20 gallons of specialized foam to combine with water to deal with chemical spills or fires. The new pumper also has a reservoir holding a recently developed foam to deal with wood and other common construction materials, as well as upholstered furniture and bedding.

        The new foam, when sprayed, suffocates the fire and provides a protective barrier around it to prevent any rekindling of the flames and to prevent further damage. Unlike pure water, the foam stays in place and does not run through or across floors which increases damage.

        Another advantage is that the fire hose becomes lighter, enabling firefighters to better control and maneuver it. The hose is lighter because the water is combining with air and the foam which, together, are lighter than a hose completely filled with water, Assistant Chief Raleigh said.

        “This will work, on wood, paper, upholstery — things we run into on a structure fire,” the assistant chief said.

        Often times, with fires in multiunit apartments or condominium buildings, water will damage more than the burning areas by running across floors, into walls, or cascade to lower floors, and damaging unburned furniture.

        The foam reduces that additional property damage, the assistant chief said.


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