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Henrico County Division of Fire “responds to the call” for greener environmental practices  

Henrico County firefighters work hard to keep us safe from fires, but you might not have thought about how they do this. Turns out, they use water as well as two foam systems to help fight fires! So, how can a person fight fire with foam?    

Front of red firetruck with 2 hoses hooked up. 1 hose goes into a white canister with a 2nd canister nearby.

Class A foam is used to reduce the surface tension of water. This helps the water “stick” to surfaces better when being used to put out fires. This foam is biodegradable meaning it does not have any negative impact on the environment.   

Class B foam is used for liquid fires. It creates a layer of film on top of the flammable liquid to prevent it from creating flammable vapors. This helps to stop the fire from spreading and makes it easier to extinguish.   

Two firefighters in full gear holding a hose with cylinder attached with foam spraying out.

But here’s the issue: Class B foam contains something called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) which are not so good for the environment. These substances do not break down easily and can exist for a long time in our soil and water. Additionally, these substances can be harmful for the people working with them.   

Now for the good news! Three years ago, Henrico County became the first agency in the Richmond Metro Area to have all the Class B foam containing PFAS properly disposed of and replaced with environmentally friendly foam.  Members of the Hazardous Incident Team trained with the Central Virginia Flammable Liquids Taskforce to figure out the proper technique for applying these foams. By exercising proper care and caution, they ensure the foam is being used in a way that protects the environment AND our personnel!    

2 firefighters doing a fist bump next to a firetruck

Vehicles are loaded with the new eco-friendly foam, ready to tackle any small liquid fires. If things get really serious, these teams are prepared to work together to make sure they’ve got enough foam to handle the job, do it right, and keep any runoff contained.   

By making things safer for their personnel and the environment, the Henrico County Division of Fire is certainly playing its part in making the world a better, greener place!  

Think about what you could do today to play your part!  

Photo 3/4 covered with white sprayed foam
2 firefighters in full gear in the distance holding hose with foam spraying out. Lots of foam on the ground.
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