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BA - Fire Suppression System Malfunction

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BA - Fire Suppression System Malfunction

Old 4th May 2020, 19:29
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I grew up with AFFF, the blood stuff came in late in my firefighting experience. Didn’t realise it was the original!
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Old 4th May 2020, 22:48
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American had a foam party at the hangar in GRU in January. The APU was the alleged culprit once again.




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Old 4th May 2020, 23:08
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Originally Posted by Jwscud
I grew up with AFFF, the blood stuff came in late in my firefighting experience. Didn’t realise it was the original!
I agree with Intruder that protein ("blood stuff") fire fighting foams pre-dated the more modern AFFF foams; however, since protein foams are biodegradable and AFFF foams are not, there may be a recent push to return to the protein foams. During my days in the USAF, protein foams were in use, and these reportedly were based on cattle blood. The stuff smelled bloody awful (pun intended) and seemed to hang about on the ramp for days. The U.S. Navy developed AFFF foams in the late 1960s, and this, to my knowledge, has been the preferred fire fighting foam since. As a fire protection engineer, I was involved in aircraft hangar fire protection design for a number of years (1970 - 2010), and the foams in use then were AFFF. I've been out of the game for some 10 years now, and there may be a push to go back to protein foams due to environmental concerns.

By the way, there are two basic types of AFFF foams: low expansion as depicted in the photographs of foam covering the hangar floor, and high expansion as depicted in the photo of the F-16 getting a bubble bath.

Cheers,
Grog

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Old 4th May 2020, 23:14
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As an aside here, I noticed that the low expansion foam shown in Air Bubba's Post #3 has a brownish tint. In my long ago experience, this was a characteristic of protein foams whereas AFFF foams are all bright white in color. Of course the brownish tint could be due to some sort of contaminant.

Just a thought.

Cheers,
Grog
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Old 4th May 2020, 23:23
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Oy, these things happen...










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Old 5th May 2020, 00:00
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Originally Posted by Locked door
What happens to any injured or immobilised personnel under that foam?
Originally Posted by M.Mouse
They are far cheaper to replace than the aircraft.
Originally Posted by cashash
They escape Alex Cruz's cull of BA staff.
Here's a report of a hangar foam fatality after reentering the hangar to take pictures.

REPORT: Deceased contractor warned not to enter foam-filled hangar


By LAUREN SAGE REINLIE / Daily News
Posted Feb 18, 2014 at 12:01 AM
Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 2:57 PMEglin Air Force Base officials announced Tuesday afternoon that the contractor killed in the Jan. 8 foam accident entered the hangar against emergency responders advice.


EGLIN AFB -- J.D. Lord, the contractor who died in an accident on base last month, entered the foam-filled airplane hangar against the advice of emergency personnel, according to an Air Force report released Tuesday.

The 31-year-old and three co-workers were “curious” to see the foam that filled the massive King Hangar during an accidental activation of the fire-suppression system, the report said.

None had received formal safety training on the dangers of the foam, according to the report.

“I offer my deepest condolences to the family of J.D. Lord. This is a tragic loss,” Maj. Gen. Arnold Bunch, commander of the Air Force Test Wing, said Tuesday as he stood in the hangar where the incident took place. “We lost a valued team member of our team who had worked with us for about six years.”

After the incident, Air Force officials immediately began investigating what happened and what measures could be taken to prevent a similar accident in the future, Bunch said. Other contributing factors included faulty parts that failed during record-cold weather and a lack of understanding of the system’s abort function.

“There are many findings and recommendations that we will undertake ... to conduct safer operations,” Bunch said. “Safety is our No. 1 priority.”

On Jan. 8, after a record cold snap brought frigid temperatures to Northwest Florida, a water line burst, flooding sensors in the hangar’s fire-suppression system and accidentally triggering the release of the high-expansion foam, according to the report.

An alarm sounded for 30 seconds before tons of foam began pouring into the 90,600-square-foot hangar, Eglin’s largest.

Personnel were evacuated from the hangar and the adjacent building where Lord and the three contractors with Defense Support Services (DS2) worked, according to the report.After all personnel were accounted for and it was determined there was no fire, firefighters worked to make sure none of the foam was escaping from the hangar. Lord helped, the report said.

Firefighters told investigators they made it clear to him that the hangar was off limits.

Unbeknownst to firefighters, Lord, the three contractors and about six to eight other employees entered the hangar using a third-floor catwalk between the two buildings, the report said.

No barriers were in place to prevent them from entering, Bunch said.

The employees told investigators they wanted to observe and take photographs of the foam that had filled the hangar below them, according to the report.

After checking out the foam, Lord and the three contractors decided to use the elevator to leave the hangar for reasons not specified in the report.

At some point they lost situational awareness, Bunch said.

The elevator opened on the ground floor and the four contractors were immediately engulfed. With no immediate escape available, they tried to make their way to an exit through the foam, holding hands to stay together.

That plan quickly fell apart when they let go of each other to try to clear the foam from their mouths and eyes, the report said.

The contractors could not see anything except what was immediately in front of them. The report described conditions as a “white out.” They also could not communicate with each other.

The conditions were described as “frightening,” even for personnel trained to respond to emergency situations, the report said.

One of the contractors, using a hood to cover his face, was able to make it out. Another broke a window to escape.

Rescue crews were called in. Two-man teams, tethered to ropes and using breathing masks, entered the foam.

One of the contractors had sat down and, turning his head to the ground, was able to make an air bubble for himself by constantly waving his arm in front of his face, Bunch said.

He was found 5 minutes after the first rescue crew entered.

It was the fifth rescue crew that found Lord, 1 hour and 19 minutes after he had entered the foam, Bunch said.

He was in cardiac arrest and was unable to be resuscitated.

Although final autopsy reports had not been released Tuesday, it is likely that Lord was rendered unconscious, either from a blow to the back of the head or as a result of panic or asphyxiation, the report said. The likely cause of death was suffocation.

High-expansion foam is used in about 146 hangars at 46 bases Air Force-wide, according to Eglin public affairs. In the past five years, there have been 25 accidental releases of the foam, including one at King Hangar in 2012.

This is the first reported fatality, Bunch said.

There is no Air Force instruction requirement about the fire-suppression system or the foam that is released, he said.

One comment that was repeated often during the investigation was the lack of understanding about the life-threatening potential of the foam, according to the report.

“There is something inherently benign about soap bubbles and foam,” the report said. Test and accidental releases of the foam often have an “air of excitement.”

The surviving contractors were “stunned when the foam became a life-threatening and panic-inducing substance,” the report said.

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Old 5th May 2020, 01:17
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Originally Posted by Airbubba
Oy, these things happen...



This was the incident I was refering to in my post. A-10 can probably taxi, take-off and fly!
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Old 5th May 2020, 01:28
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Originally Posted by admiral ackbar
This was the incident I was refering to in my post. A-10 can probably taxi, take-off and fly!
Yep, these events are a lot more common than I had realized.

From the article above, for the Air Force alone:

High-expansion foam is used in about 146 hangars at 46 bases Air Force-wide, according to Eglin public affairs. In the past five years, there have been 25 accidental releases of the foam, including one at King Hangar in 2012.
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Old 5th May 2020, 02:20
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Jetstar did the same in Newcastle a few years ago as well...









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Old 5th May 2020, 02:43
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That liquid blood was good for tomatoes!!
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Old 5th May 2020, 07:41
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Originally Posted by capngrog
As an aside here, I noticed that the low expansion foam shown in Air Bubba's Post #3 has a brownish tint. In my long ago experience, this was a characteristic of protein foams whereas AFFF foams are all bright white in color. Of course the brownish tint could be due to some sort of contaminant.

Just a thought.

Cheers,
Grog
it was the brown colour that made me think it was the bio-friendly stuff. I don’t have any technical knowledge beyond being trained to use it in shipboard days, but I understand AFFF is very environmentally unfriendly when it washes off.

The smell of the bio stuff drying on your clothes in hot weather is definitely unforgettable
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Old 5th May 2020, 18:42
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No mention of this not being an accident
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Old 5th May 2020, 19:10
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Originally Posted by A320LGW
No mention of this not being an accident
Are you implying that it was possibly one of those cases of industrial sabotage that sometimes occur in times of militant labor activism?
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Old 5th May 2020, 19:15
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Originally Posted by Airbubba
Are you implying that it was possibly one of those cases of industrial sabotage that sometimes occur in times of militant labor activism?
That is what the word on the street is
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Old 5th May 2020, 19:55
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Originally Posted by Airbubba
Are you implying that it was possibly one of those cases of industrial sabotage that sometimes occur in times of militant labor activism?
Originally Posted by A320LGW
That is what the word on the street is
Wow.

The worse case I recall of this form of 'activism' was the arson of the Dupont Plaza Hotel in SJU during a Teamsters strike in 1986. Nearly 100 fatalities as I recall.

In the unrest leading up to the 1989 Eastern Airlines strike Charlie Bryan's Machinists would find wires cut on aircraft. Door slides would mysteriously pop on planes in the hangar for maintenance.

When the strike was finally called to go down at the traditional 12:01 am the evening maintenance shift was locked out preemptively to avoid further celebratory sabatoge.

During the EAL strike an observation station was set up on the top floor of the Viscount hotel in MIA with binoculars and radio scanners to monitor the operations of the replacement pilots. Possibly not related but unauthorized transmissions on tower frequency would sometimes give bogus instructions to the pilots who crossed the picket line to fly the passengers.

Three decades later I would think that hangar surveillance cameras would catch someone intentionally messing with the fire detection system. Or would they?
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Old 5th May 2020, 20:21
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I'd want to see more evidence than "word on the street" before believing a conspiracy rather than a simple c*ck-up.
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Old 5th May 2020, 21:27
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
I'd want to see more evidence than "word on the street" before believing a conspiracy rather than a simple c*ck-up.
The suppression system requires double knock detection from 2 separate detection points of differing types. A manual override whilst possible is fitted. Given the value in the hangar, there maybe some form of lockout on the override.

BA will quickly find the root cause, probably already have.
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Old 6th May 2020, 02:42
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Originally Posted by Local Variation
The suppression system requires double knock detection from 2 separate detection points of differing types. A manual override whilst possible is fitted. Given the value in the hangar, there maybe some form of lockout on the override.
I've made a career of breaking planes, not fixing them, so I'm not too familiar with these maintenance hangar fire suppression systems. It seems from the news accounts I've found online there is usually a 30-second warning period for folks to evacuate before the foam starts to flow. Is there no cancellation available? Or does the override stop the foam rather than start it without detection?

I remember doing a sim somewhere with the briefing that a halon or something similar cloud would fill the bay in event of a fire detection. I was told that if I didn't get out I would suffocate (but be pay protected for the remainder of the training session under the CBA ).
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Old 6th May 2020, 11:27
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So how do they clean this mess up and what damage if any, is done to the aircraft that this system protects?

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Old 6th May 2020, 17:28
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Originally Posted by Airbubba
I've made a career of breaking planes, not fixing them, so I'm not too familiar with these maintenance hangar fire suppression systems. It seems from the news accounts I've found online there is usually a 30-second warning period for folks to evacuate before the foam starts to flow. Is there no cancellation available? Or does the override stop the foam rather than start it without detection?

I remember doing a sim somewhere with the briefing that a halon or something similar cloud would fill the bay in event of a fire detection. I was told that if I didn't get out I would suffocate (but be pay protected for the remainder of the training session under the CBA ).
Airbubba,

The manual override will be to release the extinguishment. Due to the potential for the 2nd detector to not activate (for whatever reason, aka citing), you need the ability to enable if you can clearly see a fire event. The eyes and nose remain the best forms of detection regardless of technology development.

The manual override has control to prevent tamper, such as key switch enable or similar. But that assumes the key is not always left in the switch.
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