Foam Testing Standards
Modern, high quality foam concentrates are very stable, and are excellent candidates for long term storage with minimal or no effects on performance.
Most reputable foam concentrate manufacturers offer at least a 10 year life for products correctly stored in original containers with the manufacturer's seal still intact (i.e. unopened). However, the performance of a fire fighting foam concentrate can be compromised by the following factors:
For these reasons, annual testing is essential and is recommended by many international bodies and firefighting standards.
For information on our independent foam testing service, please visit foamtesting.com
FIA (Fire Industry Association)
The FIA published Guidance on Regular Testing of Fire Fighting Foam Concentrates and Discharged Foam Solutions with the aim to "provide clear information for owners of foam systems and for fire system technicians involved in the testing of foam systems."
The guide recommended that "the key constituents [of a foam system] – the foam concentrate and the foam proportioner - need to be tested, at least annually, to verify that the foam is up to specification and the proportioner is working accurately."
To download a copy, please click here.
NFPA 11: 2021
The US National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) introduced NFPA 11, an internationally recognised standard for Low-, Medium-, and High-Expansion Fire Fighting Foam which also covers the design, installation, operation, testing, and maintenance of foam systems.
Reagrding Foam testing requirements, NFPA 11: 2021 stipulates the following:
Paragraph 22.214.171.124 & 126.96.36.199, Foam Concentrate Inspection: "At least annually, an inspection shall be made of foam concentrates and their tanks or storage containers for evidence of excessive sludging or deterioration [...] Samples of concentrates shall be sent to the manufacturer or qualified laboratory for quality condition testing."
Paragraph 12.6.5, Discharge Tests: "The foam concentrate induction rate of a proportioner, expresses as a percentage of the foam solution flow (water plus foam concentrate), shall be within minus 0 percent to plus 30 percent of the manufacturer’s listed concentrations, or plus 1 percentage point, whichever is less."
Paragraph 188.8.131.52 & 184.108.40.206, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance: "At least annually, all foam systems shall be thoroughly inspected and tested for correct operation. The goal of this inspection and testing shall be to ensure that the system is in full operating condition and that it remains in that condition until the next inspection."
For more information on NFPA 11: 2021, please see here.
ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation)
According to ICAO Doc 9137-AN/898 Airport Services Manual Part 1: Rescue and Firefighting, Fourth Edition, 2015, paragraph 8.1.7, in order to "to ensure the on-going capability of the foam production system", testing of your system "should be performed at least every twelve months."
For more information on ICAO Standards, please see here.
CAA (Civil Aviation Authority)
According to CAA CAP 168, 11th Edition, 2019, paragraph 8.84: “any stocks of fire extinguishing agents […] should be assessed for continued satisfactory performance by taking samples from each batch and having these analysed at regular intervals by a competent person”.
Paragraphs 8.87, 8.87 & 8.93 also state “In order to ensure that foam production by an RFFS vehicle is of an acceptable standard a Foam Production Performance Test […] should be carried out [to confirm] the induction percentage for all foam-making devices […] In-service test should be conducted to ensure the ongoing capability of the foam production system at least every 12 months.”
For more information on CAA requirements, please see here.
UK HSE - Offshore Helidecks
Offshore Information Sheet No. 6/2011 was introduced "to remind duty holders of the need to ensure that the testing of the quality of offshore helideck firefighting foam concentrates and mixing/induction systems are fit for purpose."
Information on the UK HSE recommendations for testing of Offshore helideck foam production systems can be found on the HSE website here.
BS EN 13565 Parts 1 & 2
BS EN 13565-1: 2019 covers the requirements and test methods for components of fixed firefighting systems that use foam concentrates.
Section 5 of the standard refers to the accuracy of the foam system's proportioning components and stipulates that produced foam shall be "not less than the rated concentration" and "not more than 30% above the rated concentration or 1 percentage point above the rated concentration (whichever is less)."
BS EN 13565-2: 2018 covers the design, construction and maintenance of fixed firefighting systems that use foam concentrates.
Section 11 of the standard refers to required annual inspections of foam systems, and stipulates that:
- "A test of the proportioner and associated fittings" shall be done annually and "the accuracy of the foam proportioning shall be in accordance with the tolerance given in EN 13565-1." (Paragraph 220.127.116.11.2)
"A check of the foam concentrate properties shall be carried out by competent and trained foam laboratory personnel"and "the results, and ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ conclusions, shall be given in a report." (Paragraph 18.104.22.168.1)
For more information on BS EN 13565, please see here.
IMO (International Maritime Organisation)
IMO Testing is required by many maritime administrations and classification bodies to be done periodically on foam concentrates stored on board ships in international waters.
IMO MSC.1/Circ.1312, 2009 Paragraphs 4&5 states: "Periodical control of foam concentrates... should be carried out at laboratories or authorized service suppliers... every year."
For more information on IMO standards, please see here.