Home Interviews THMG174 – Foam Operations with Joe Bateman

THMG174 – Foam Operations with Joe Bateman


In this episode, Bob and Mike discuss all things foam with our resident expert, Joe Bateman.

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Complete Show Notes

1:30 Introduction to Joe Bateman

  • Fire chief at a local oil refinery fire department in an area of Northern California
  • Has been teaching since 2002 at what started off as an advanced foam school
  • Teaches foam applications, different techniques, how to put out different kinds of fires, and more
  • Joe’s school attracts municipal firefighters, as well as people from industry

5:15 Why Use Foam?

  • Foam is still the best way to extinguish a flammable liquid
  • At Joe’s school and refinery, foam can handle everything – he uses AR-AFFF (alcohol-resistant aqueous film-forming foam)
  • Since ethanol is in gasoline these days, having foam that’s alcohol-resistant is a must
  • Old protein foams used to separate and didn’t have a very long shelf life

10:30 How Foams Work

  • All AR-AFFF foams create a polyurethane skin on the surface you’re treating
  • We want the foam to float above the surface so it isn’t broken down or absorbed into the fire
  • Type 3 foam application involves lobbing foam up and into a tank – this is worst-case scenario
  • Vast majority of foams create a film

14:00 Class A Foams

  • Similar consistency to dish soap
  • More of a wetting agent than anything – wets down and soaks in without forming a foam
  • Low surface tension

16:00 Petrochemical Mutual Aid Organization (PMAO)

  • Joe is a member of this organization along with four other refineries
  • Connected by a large dispatch center and meet monthly to hold drills
  • Help each other out in emergencies and share supplies when need be

20:20 What is PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid)?

  • In 2015, a facility in New Jersey had a storage tank of foam that leaked and got into the groundwater – EPA got involved
  • PFOA is very bad for drinking water, which is why there’s such a focus on it today – this is a problem in lots of places
  • Today, you can only purchase PFOA C6, and the goal is to shift to fluorine-free foam in the future
  • In Joe’s experience, you’re doubling your application (and your application time) when you use fluorine-free foam

31:35 Getting Foam from a Concentrate Into a Tank

  • Joe carries foam on his industrial rigs, rather than water – lots of hydrants all over the refinery
  • Foam concentrates are picked up into the water line, which creates foam solution
  • When the foam solution reaches the end of the line and hits air, you get finished foam
  • This process is referred to as proportioning, which is dependent on a lot of different factors

40:45 Contacting Joe

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