Frequently asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions - Our Technical Services team has compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you get the information you need.
Does the ICAF SYSTEM require the use a special foam concentrate?No, the ICAF SYSTEM does not use a special foam concentrate. In fact, the approved foam concentrates are standard and ARC’s foams that already exist for fixed foam-water sprinkler systems, are available off the shelf.
The concentrates that Factory Mutual approved for use with the ICAF SYSTEM at this time is the following:– Ansulite 3 x 3 LV Alcool Resistant Concentrate for hydrocarbons and polar solvents.
It is to be noted that the concentrate descriptions are manufacturers’ brand-names and the percentages described are for foam-water sprinklers. These do not reflect the concentrations approved for the ICAF System, which are different. Consult the Systems ICAF Foam Datasheet or contact one of our Sales Representatives for more details.
What are the environmental impacts and clean-up implications of compressed air foam?
Environmental and disposal issues surrounding the use of Class B foam concentrates have been an increasing concern over the last few years. The foam concentrates used in the ICAF SYSTEM are biodegradable. For specific foam concentrate technical data, consult the appropriate manufacturer technical datasheet posted on our website. Because compressed air foam solution is comprised primarily of air, the inherent low foam and water requirements provide for maximum fire suppression performance with minimal environmental impact. For any given application, ICAF SYSTEMS are designed to use approximately 4 times less water, and 2 to 6 times less foam concentrate in comparison to foam-water sprinklers. However, as with any substance, care should be taken to prevent discharge from entering ground water, surface water, or storm drains. With advance notice, foam solution discharges can be treated by local biological sewage treatment systems. Since facilities vary widely by municipality or location, disposal should be made in accordance with federal, state or provincial, and local or municipal regulations. Consult the Systems ICAF Datasheet or contact one of our Sales Representatives for more details.
What is the shelf life of the foam concentrate used in the ICAF SYSTEM?
The shelf life of any foam concentrate is maximized by proper storage conditions and maintenance. Factors affecting shelf life are wide temperature changes, extreme high or low temperatures, evaporation, dilution, and contamination by foreign materials. When foam concentrates are properly stored in their original containers or in tanks or containers designed for such foam storage (like the ICAF SYSTEM’s foam tank is), and have been inspected regularly (NFPA recommends annual testing), foam concentrates that have been tested have shown no significant loss of fire fighting performance, even after 15 years. For more details, please refer to the foam concentrate manufacturer datasheets posted on our website, or contact one of our Sales Representatives.
Does the ICAF piping system require special materials, fittings, hangers or piping arrangements?
No. The ICAF SYSTEM does not require any specific or special piping materials, use of normal piping and fitting is fine (black steel, or galvanized pipe are both acceptable). For pipe wall thickness, use Schedule 40 for 1” to 2”, and schedule 10 or 40 for the 2-1/2” and 4” mains. For pipe fittings, standard grooved, flanged, welded and threaded connections are all acceptable. Standard hangers are acceptable, as recommended by NFPA-13. The selection of materials for piping, fittings, hangers and supports will typically depend on the degree of corrosive elements expected in the piping environment for any given project. For more details, please refer to the design manual or contact one of our Sales Representatives.
What are the maintenance requirements for an ICAF SYSTEM?
Just like any other type of foam system, ICAF SYSTEMS require periodic maintenance. For the inspection, testing and maintenance requirements of ICAF SYSTEMS, refer to the NFPA 11 Standard, Chapter 7. You can also consult the ICAF User Manual available on the FireFlex website. Note that the owner of the building or premises where the system is installed has the responsibility to ensure his ICAF SYSTEM is properly maintained and in good working order at all times. He should contact contractors that have been trained and accredited by FireFlex Systems for maintenance on ICAF SYSTEMS.
Does the FM Approval allow the use of plant air or a high-pressure air compressor instead of the high-pressure air cylinders?
Yes, the ICAF SYSTEM FM Approval does not limit the provision of air supply to high pressure air cylinders only. Because there are no high-pressure air compressors specifically listed or approved for fire protection, and that the system requires large air volumes which must be regulated at a constant pressure of 100 psi, it is more practical and economical to use high-pressure cylinders. These cylinders are also certified by the Department of Transport (DOT) for transportation throughout Canada and the US. This does not eliminate the possibility of using plant air if it can be maintained at a pressure of 100 psi at the maximum required flow rate and it has been shown that this source is reliable and sufficient in case of fire.
Does the ICAF SYSTEM use a bladder-type foam storage tank?
No, the storage tank used with the ICAF SYSTEM is a rated stainless steel pressure vessel, designed and manufactured as per ASME Section VIII, Div. 1 Standard, and which is not pressurized under normal standby conditions. When the system activates, system air pressure is used to pressurize the tank, pushing the foam concentrate into the mixing chamber through a siphon tube. The foam storage tank has a maximum working pressure of 150 psi and is sized and fabricated to meet the project requirements. Because the storage tank does not have a bladder, it will not be subject to the same maintenance issues typically associated to bladder systems and its installation will be greatly facilitated. Refer to the appropriate datasheets or contact one of our Sales Representatives for more information.
Can I use an ICAF SYSTEM to protect a flammable liquid storage application as per NFPA-30?
NFPA-30 is a broad standard that includes many types of storage. Although the approval of the ICAF SYSTEM is not application specific, it is approved for combustible and flammable liquid pool, spill and cascading-type fires which can be found in some storage applications.
In some cases, storage applications can be protected by an ICAF SYSTEM, while others will require more research and testing to be done before we can confirm if they can be done or not.
Should you consider using the Compressed Air Foam technology to protect a storage application falling under NFPA-30 jurisdiction, consult your FireFlex Systems Sales Representative. He will help you determine the applicability of the ICAF SYSTEM to your specific application.
Can ICAF SYSTEMS be used for outdoor applications, where low temperatures, wind, etc. are present?
Yes, with caution. For cold weather applications, testing at our plant in sub-zero conditions as low as -4 F. (–20°C) has demonstrated that the Compressed Air Foam (CAF) quality generated, delivery to the nozzle and discharge are not affected by low temperatures. It is recommended to flush the piping network with compressed air to eliminate any residual foam and/or water left in the piping after a discharge. The FM Approval does not limit the use of ICAF SYSTEMS to indoor applications. Nevertheless, evaluation of other outdoor elements such as wind, snow, rain, ice, insects or other, and the associated potential for system impairment must be taken into consideration. The nozzles may also need to be protected from the elements. To minimize the impact of the wind on an outdoor hazard, such as with a power transformer for example, it would be preferable to have the transformer shielded by walls on at least three sides. Other precautions might be necessary, just like most suppression systems require. Consult FireFlex Systems Engineering Department for more details on such applications.
Can the ICAF SYSTEM be used to protect aircraft hangars?
Yes, the ICAF SYSTEM can be considered for hangars when confronting a situation where water supplies are inadequate for traditional fire protection means and the cost to upgrade the infrastructure would be prohibitive. The ICAF SYSTEM has been used to protect several aircraft hangars where conventional fire protection systems were not economically viable. With a thorough engineering study and evaluation of the specific project parameters by a fire protection engineer, a code equivalency report can be accepted by the AHJ to allow the use of the ICAF SYSTEM as an equivalent to an overhead foam-water deluge system in order to meet building code requirements for construction permits. Consult FireFlex Systems Engineering Department for more details.
Does water discharged from overhead sprinklers affect the Compressed Air Foam blanket?
Full-scale fire testing has demonstrated that the simultaneous discharge of the sprinkler system designed at density less than 0,25 gpm/ft2 and an ICAF foam system did not adversely affect the extinguishing performance of the ICAF SYSTEM. When the sprinkler system is designed at a density greater than 0,25 gpm/ft2 and up to 0,60 gpm/ft2, the concentration used on hydrocarbon risks must be increased to 6%. For risks involving polar solvents, the concentration of 6% remains unchanged.
What is the maximum size of hazard the ICAF SYSTEM is approved for?
Just like the ICAF SYSTEM approval is not application specific, there is virtually no limit to the size of an area that can be protected. Unlike some water mist or gas suppression systems, the ICAF SYSTEM is not restricted nor limited by hazard volumes or areas.
Although each mixing chamber can feed a maximum of 32 discharge nozzles, there is no limit as to the number of mixing chambers in a system. They are simply added until all the protected area is covered by discharge nozzles. Just like a sprinkler system, multiple systems can be used for large or multiple areas. Multiple hazards can also be protected from a common foam tank and compressed air cylinders bank. Consult FireFlex Systems Engineering Department to explore the various possibilities applicable to your specific application.
If there is no water supply at all, can we still consider using an ICAF SYSTEM?
es, when there is no water service or not enough supply, it is possible to have a water tank (either a pressure vessel or an atmospheric storage tank with a fire pump) as part of the ICAF SYSTEM. When using a pressure vessel for water storage, the air supply must be designed and sized to include the pressurisation of the water tank. Upon system activation, water will be propelled into the system trim by the same air pressure that propels the foam concentrate. Contact FireFlex Systems Technical Department for more details on the best solution applicable to your application.