My dept. is looking into purchashing and new engine with a CAFS. Our Chief is looking for a Pirece PUC With there CAFS system. I need the pro's and con's on there unit. Also I have seen the Hale CAFS foam pro and like it. Would like feed back on both systems from users.
An area department spent the money on the CAFS for 3 pumpers. They found out later that when you stretch it to the 2nd or 3rd floor it is vulnerable to kinking the line and the end product is dramatically reduced. I can remember radio transmissions about having no water/foam while on the fire floor.
The use it for exterior operations... does wonders for exposure control but they are not buying anymore.
We don't run either of those CAF systems, we run a Rosenbauer/Waterous. I don't have a big problem with any of them as manufacturers, but I would stick with someone who has a track record in the industry, like Darley, Hale, Pierce or Waterous. (listed alphabetically there). Those four are responsible for most systems in service now, whether they built the apparatus or not, since most builders just hire one of those companies to subcontract the job of installing the CAFS.
But here are a few things you need to think about. First, keep it simple, the fewer steps you have to go through to get foam out the nozzle the better. Same goes for adjusting the "wetness" of the foam. Each manufacturer is using whatever they can to get the lead in the CAFS race, so they are offering a lot of fine tuning type solutions. Some leave the air flow constant and adjust the water flow rate to make the foam wetter or dryer. Others do the opposite and want to adjust the air, and still others offer the capability to do both. The point is that you want to keep it as simple as possible, don't get all caught up in the bells and whistles that can "fine tune" your foam.
Secondly, you need three parts to make it work, and they are all equally important. So make sure you get a quality foam injection system. As far as pumps go, remember that CAFS is not going to flow a lot of water, so a big 1500 GPM pump is going to recirculate a lot of water which will eventually get pretty hot when you are only flowing 40-100 GPM. Remember the biggest standard compressor is 200 CFM, and if you are running "wet" foam, that which is suggested for attack mode, then you are only flowing about 400 GPM optimally. Some of the manufacturers are beginning to toy with the idea of utilizing a smaller secondary "pony" pump for those low flow CAFS situations, leaving the big midships idle, which keeps the water and what they are cooling cooler and extends the life of the big pump.
You will be required to check a lot of things on a regular basis like filters and screens and oil sight glasses, so make sure you get it built as maintenance friendly as possible, or these builders will stick those components in some places that will make you pull your hair out. Make sure you take delivery at the dealer's site and not your station, and make sure you take someone along who knows something about CAFS who can help you run it through it's paces before you accept delivery. If you go with a builder who subcontracts the CAFS work, then make sure that CAFS company has a rep on hand for testing as well. Go with a regular rubber hosereel line, not the fabric lighter-weight hose. The latter has ribs in it which will strip the bubbles and you won't ever get your hosereel to work right.
Last thing is to make sure you budget in some training for the unit, on both an operational level, as well as maintenance. It's a very effective tool, but its a whole new animal from what most departments are used to, so don't expect your old training techniques to work for CAFS. Be prepared to run your CAFS system at least once a week, because letting one of them set up for extended periods is deadly to them.
Yes, the hose will kink and will strip the air out of the bubbles, but a lot of that is learning how to use it, hence the comment about training above. But i will agree if you have to get your hoseline through really tight twisting passages, you can have issues. Its the kinking that is the problem, not the elevation. Another thing about a CAFS line is it is more susceptible to burning through faster since it doesn't have the heat sink that water by itself provides.
I know a few people who are running Pierces, and can put you into contact if you wish.
Its a great tool. Its not the silver bullet, but the more we learn about it, the more we learn to adapt to it and use it, the better it works.
Ok here is what I know, and is limited in this subject. The first time I seen CAFS, I had to have it on the next truck, but it cost 25 grand, I could still live with that. Then I took a foam class and although I was still impressed, CAFS has it’s limitations as it’s not recommended for vapor forming fuels, no build up to the product, and at most fuel fires they want a 2ft blanket. So we ended up with an inline inductor plumbed to 3 different points on the truck and a 20gal tank , a hell of a lot cheaper but now you are limited to 1 section of hose as the product degrades if you go farther, so we also have a pro pack for the hard to reach spots. This make any sense?? I’ve only had 1 cup of coffee this morning.