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Fluorine free foam sprinkler systems

Due to environmental concerns and regulatory changes our industry is reducing the use of PFAS based foam concentrates such as AFFF in fixed fire protection systems. One of the reasons relates to its ability to biodegrade and its persistence in the environment. Fluorine free foams offer a more environmentally responsible alternative.

This change is proving challenging from a fire performance perspective. Users, AHJ's and designers should be aware of the need to use products tested for their intended purpose. One such application is foam-sprinkler systems.

Fluorine free foam sprinkler system applications

Sprinkler applications are especially challenging for any foam due to the very low operating pressure and expansion. Applying foam through a sprinkler head is a very forceful application method and requires foam that can handle direct application and partial submersion into the fuel without losing its fire performance and burn-back resistance.

Foams that shall be regarded as suitable for sprinkler applications shall also be able to withstand a limited time of water deluge directly onto the foam blanket without losing its burn-back properties.

The European foam concentrate standard for use in low expansion applications is EN1568 Part 3 & Part 4. This standard does not take into account the real life discharge devices used in fixed systems. Experience tells us that foams, working with different discharge devices at different discharge parameters will give differing results. This was also confirmed in recent testing conducted by the NFPA Research Foundation (Evaluation of the fire protection effectiveness of fluorine free firefighting foams).

Independent third party approvals bodies such as FM and UL have robust test standards (FM5130 and UL162) that test a specific foam with specific discharge devices in a manufacturer-defined range of operation. This means that a system designer or AHJ has a clear guide on what has been proven to work in the real world.

Viking is pleased to introduce the first FM Approved fluorine free fixed foam system for Hydrocarbon and Polar Solvent applications. This system approval is initially focused at non-aspirated sprinkler discharge devices for use in closed or open head installations such as warehouses, chemical manufacturing areas, loading racks or aircraft hangars for example.

FM Approvals state:

"Foam extinguishing systems are special protection systems designed to limit fire damage in an ignitable liquid use occupancy, or as an alternate to providing an emergency drainage system. A foam extinguishing system's basic components consist of (1) foam concentrate (2) foam concentrate storage tank (3) proportioner and (4) discharge device(s) which are compatible with each other and identified as part of the manufacturers FM Approval listing. The discharge device may be of either aspirating or non-aspirating type as identified in the listing".

The Viking approval/listing comprises:

  1. Viking ARK SFFF alcohol resistant foam concentrate
  2. Model VFT vertical and horizontal bladder tanks manufactured in carbon steel or stainless steel to EN13445 or ASME design codes with 12 or 16 bar pressure ratings.
  3. Model VNR wide range bladder tank proportioner in 6" or 8" sizes.
  4. A range of 1/2" (15 mm) and 3/4" (20 mm) upright and pendent sprinkler heads for use in closed head wet systems or open nozzle deluge systems.

📚 Interesting read | Article: Foam Sprinklers & SFFF (May 2021) (Source: EFSN Sprinkler Outlook Issue 1, 2021)

📚 Interesting read | Press release: Viking EMEA places good stewardship of our natural environment as a top priority (28 Nov 2023)

Note: "SFFF compatible" refers to this product as being part of a SFFF Foam system that has been tested to recognised standards. Not all configurations are available. Please consult technical data and/or the Approval/Listing for usage requirements. SFFF stands for synthetic fluorine free foam.