Fire safety and suppression have long been integral to the makeup of commercial airport operations. For decades, aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) has been a primary material that satisfies federal and state regulations and fire code requirements. This approved and resilient suppression agent has a proven track record of suppressing and stopping the propagation of fire, thus minimizing the impact of fire events on critical airport operations.
While AFFF continues to provide a reliable fi re suppression solution for airports, the environmental impacts of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — the compounds that make up traditional AFFF — have become the focus of emerging regulations. The physical properties of PFAS serve to effectively smother, suppress and prevent burn back on pool fires; however, if released to the environment, the chemical properties that make AFFF an effective fire suppression agent also make PFAS difficult to remediate or treat.
In recent years, environmental focus on PFAS has caused the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies to reconsider existing specifications regarding the use of AFFF. The FAA currently requires the use of PFAS-containing AFFFs for firefighting response due to the performance of these products. Additionally, fire codes in some jurisdictions and/or insurance underwriters may require AFFF suppression systems for protection of aircraft hangars or certain operations in bulk jet fuel storage facilities.