Dealing effectively with coal mine fires and other industrial emergencies is a matter of tiny bubbles. Red Dog Services specializes in compressed air foam systems (CAFS) that generate a fire suppressant easily mistaken for shaving cream.
What separates CAFS from foam systems usually identified with industrial fire fighting is how the foam is made, said Mike Shea, co-owner of Allen, TX-based Red Dog Services.
“CAF systems create foam in a mixing chamber rather than an aerated nozzle,” Shea said. “The result is a better quality, better structured foam.”
Red Dog recommends the use of certified foam products for Class A and or Class B fires. Red Dog Services not only uses gas – either air or inert nitrogen – to make foam, but to propel it greater distances.
“Our products are first response stored energy CAF systems,” Shea said. “Our products stand alone.”
All Red Dog CAFS equipment is designed to function as stand-alone mechanisms requiring no outside energy source. An innovative new accelerator mixing chamber allows flow rate and expansion rates to be preset and regulated so no further adjustments are necessary.
Unlike dry chemical systems that create particle clouds impairing visibility and breathing, Red Dog’s Suppressor series of CAFS devices shoots a continuous stream of foam at distancesfrom 25 to 100 feet, depending on the size system and nozzles used , making it safer and more effective.
The Suppressor series is designed specifically for use in heavy industry, Shea said. In business since 2009, Red Dog first found success with systems designed for coal fire suppression.
“We first built a large, high capacity foam generator for coal mine fires,” Shea said. “From there we moved into CAF systems designed for more routine, day-to-day response.”
The chief advantage of a CAFS device is a quick first response. Red Dog devices are mobile enough to be put on a trailer, ATV or the back of a pickup, Shea said.
While setting up eductors and other equipment to produce standard fire foam can be a lengthy process, CAFS devices are ready to produce foam immediately, he said.
“What you need is the ability to get started awfully quick,” Shea said. “That’s where our systems come in.”
Red Dog equipment can be found in chemical plants, aviation hangers, various types of mines and are finding their way into more and more oil and gas operations, he said.
Each device is specifically built to endure the type of punishment that heavy industrial fire equipment can expect, he said.
“Our systems are powder coated inside and out and built from stainless steel and brass,” Shea said. “They are made to be abused.”
CAFS equipment can be used with whatever class of foam is best for the job – Class A, B, AFFF or AR-AFFF.
“If you’re looking for something to deal with brush fires, you’re going to want Class A,” Shea said. “If you’re in a chemical plant that has alcohols you’re going to want an AR-AFFF. It depends on what you want.”
Traditionally, the chief advantage of CAFS is a better expansion rate using less water.
“You might find yourself in a situation where water is limited,” Shea said. “CAFS gives you an expansion ratio of eight to 10 times greater than the original solution, depending on the foam.”
The result is a greater ability to extinguish the fire in less time and with less stress on the firefighters, he said.
“If you pick up a line filled with foam versus a line filled with water, it’s a lot lighter,” Shea said. “It’s a lot easier to work with. The foam can not only be used to suppress a fire but controls flammable vapors.”
Red Dog CAFS equipment ranges in price from $1,500for a three-gallon handheld unit to large automated systems that range from $75,000 to $100,000.
The largest unit in the Red Dog catalog is the Watchdog 500, a stand alone, skid mounted unit with a 500 gallon solution tank. Pressurized using four 300 cubic foot nitrogen cylinders, it will discharge more than 5,000 gallons of finished foam for more than five minutes over a distance of 150 feet.
From the smallest to the largest unit, Red Dog equipment shares the major distinction of speed.
“It’s all gas and go,” Shea said. “It’s easy and ready to use.”