Grant will assist city firefighters

The Marietta Fire Department will soon have a quicker and safer way to fight fires through equipment provided by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The 2012 Assistance to Firefighters Grant will provide the department with $94,950 to retrofit four of its fire trucks with foam injection systems, said Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham.

The new system will mean the hoses on those four trucks will be able to easily tap into reservoirs of foam that are designed to help control different types of fires.

“We actually carry foam now in five-gallon buckets, but it’s such a labor intensive process, it’s almost impossible to ever use the foam on the first attack,” said Durham.

Currently, if the firefighters want to use foam, they have to unload one of the five-gallon buckets, disconnect a joint in one of the hoses, reconnect a special portable foam injection tool to the hose, and carry that hose section and five-gallon bucket of foam to where it is needed, he said.

The process means the department is one man and one hose short until the bucket of foam and portable injector are in place, Durham said.

“This is going to make us a lot quicker and a lot safer,” he added.

The new system will allow firefighters to select from two types of foam, each designed to fight a different type of fire, he said.

Class A foam helps fight normal combustion fires by reducing the surface tension on the water, allowing the burning structure to soak up water more easily. It also means the department uses less water, meaning less water damage and less chance of a structure collapsing under the weight of the water, said Durham.

Class B foam helps fight liquid fires by acting as a sort of blanket that smothers highly combustible vapors, he said. Class B foam is ideal for use at the scene of a car accident where it is more effective than water alone when it comes to extinguishing spilled oil and gasoline has caught fire, he added.

“There’s going to be a digital control panel on the pumper where you can engage either type of foam and it even lets us control what percentage of it to use,” he said.

The time frame for installing the new foam systems hasn’t been determined, but Durham said he hopes to have the systems installed before summer.

The grant is a 5 percent matching grant, meaning the City of Marietta is responsible for $4,747 of the total amount.

However, that’s a small price to pay considering the potential impact, said Marietta City Councilman Steve Thomas, D-3rd Ward.

“One hundred thousand dollars versus $5,000… That’s a really great deal for us. And they’re going to save us a lot of manpower using this foam for accidents,” he said.