What Are Foam Suppression Systems? Here’s What You Need To Know

what are foam suppression systems

Depending on the size of your facility, the hazardous chemicals present, and the equipment you work with, you might benefit from a foam suppression system. Read on to discover more about this kind of fire protection system, how it works, and what types there are. 

What Is a Foam Fire Suppression System?

Foam suppression systems are water-based and include an additional extinguishing agent. They should be used in any setting where flammable or combustible liquids are used, processed, manufactured, or stored. 

Foam, also known as “firefighting foam,” is the extinguishing agent added to these suppression systems. This foam can extinguish flammable liquids by cooling down and separating the ignition source from the surface. 

The foam in these suppression systems consists of tiny, air-filled bubbles with a lower density than water. It’s made from water, foam concentrate, and air. Each manufacturer has their own kinds of foam solutions, and the ratio of foam to water will depend on the application it’s being used for. 

How Do Foam Fire Suppression Systems Work?

Foam suppression systems extinguish a fire by separating the fire’s fuel from oxygen in the air. Its job is to cool the fire down and coat whatever is fueling it – thus preventing contact with oxygen and the ability to combust. 

Much like wet sprinkler systems, foam flows through a network of pipes and is discharged through nozzles. The main difference is the presence of the foaming additive, which is stored separately from water and mixed together in the pipes once the system is activated.

When water is mixed with the foaming agent, it expands and creates a foam that has immense coverage and can fill expansive spaces. The foam then smothers the surface of what’s fueling the fire, and the water content cools the area.

What Are the 3 Standard Types of Foam Fire Suppression Systems?

Each of the three types of foam suppression systems offers its own method of suppression, varying based on each facility’s needs.

Low Expansion Foam Systems

Low-expansion foam systems are commonly used in accompaniment with sprinkler systems, fire hoses, monitors, spray nozzles, and foam makers. They’re very wet and create a fluid foam blanket filled with minuscule foam bubbles. 

The primary uses for low-expansion foam systems are warehouses, manufacturing areas, rail loading rocks, fuel storage tanks, aircraft hangers, and helipads.

Medium Expansion Foam Systems

Medium expansion systems create dense foam blankets upwards of two feet deep. They’re commonly used for vapor suppression in refineries, chemical manufacturing plants, and containment dike protection systems.

High Expansion Foam Systems

High expansion foam systems create large, damp foam bubbles. The blanket of foam can be anywhere from three to 45 feet deep. These systems are most commonly used in facilities where a large area needs protection, such as aircraft hangars, total flooding warehouses, and liquified natural gas impound basins.

What Are Common Applications for Foam Suppression Systems?

Each foam suppression system can be tailored to meet the exact needs of the facility the system is being installed in. Some common applications for foam suppression systems include:

  • Refineries
  • Loading Docks
  • Aircraft Hangars
  • Warehouses 
  • Flammable Liquid Storage
  • Heliports
  • Jet Engine Test Facilities
  • Oil and Gas Companies

Foam Suppression Systems for Oil & Gas Facilities

At Total Industrial Solutions, we use industry-leading fire protection solutions, including dry chemical solutions, flame detection systems, fire pump systems, and foam systems. Our expert technicians understand the importance of a safe and efficient work environment, and we’re here to support you with all your fire suppression needs.

Something that sets us apart from other fire protection companies is that we specialize in the oil and gas industry. We know that oil and gas production companies, operating both onshore and offshore, are at risk for class B fires and would benefit from foam suppression systems. We’re here to help you implement effective fire safety equipment. Give us a call to get started today.