Teaming Up to Prepare Firefighters for a Fluorine-Free Future



Fraport Aviation Academy announces a new partnership with STHAMER, one of the leading researchers, developers and producers of foam fire extinguishing compounds, as it prepares for stricter European legislative requirements, develops safer aviation foam training, and tries to decrease the overall impact of fire intervention on the environment and health of firefighters.

Growing environmental awareness and the related requirements are becoming increasingly challenging for the field of firefighting, but they also promote the development of environmentally sound technologies and products. This particularly affects firefighting with foam agents; there is a push to replace the currently most-used foam agent worldwide, AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam), with Fluorine-Free Foam, which has been developed to avoid issues with recent European regulations on fluorine-containing chemicals. 

AFFF is known for its high performance, which is based on fluoro-organic compounds such as fluorosurfactants and fluoropolymers. As these chemicals make foam bubbles fuel repellent, AFFF has proven to be very efficient at extinguishing chemical and petrochemical fires. However, apart from its lack of biodegradability, it poses hazards to health and the environment, and so its use is going to become more and more limited by both legal restrictions and the fear of liability issues following AFFF-use.

Fluorine-Free Foam agents have been known for a long time, and under the pressure on AFFF have improved significantly and are now able to yield a fire performance similar to AFFF if properly applied. 

STHAMER Contract   Signing the Contract in August 2020

on the left: Thomas Uihlein, Director of Aviation Academy, on the right: Martin Gorski, Kundenbetreuung mobile Projekte, Marketing und Schulung

Fraport Aviation Academy provides training for airport firefighters based on several European, non-European and national standards and regulations, which all require safe and realistic training with all the available extinguishing agents. “Although our training field is well-equipped for training with AFFF, we have decided to use Fluorine-Free Foam as the safer alternative. It not only preserves the environment and the health of the training participants, but prepares them for the future,” said Thomas Uihlein, Director of Aviation Academy. 

The new generation of foams require the development of new extinguishing/application methods and tactics to maximise their extinguishing capabilities, which can only be carried out through testing. The partners will work together to develop these tactics, increase awareness of raising environmental demands, and create better understanding of the new generation of Fluorine-Free Foams. 

Fraport Aviation Academy and STHAMER both have a long tradition and huge experience in their respective fields. Outstanding theoretical knowledge and practical experience set the foundation for the development of new products, procedures and guidelines. The partners are committed to increasing firefighters’ knowledge of Fluorine-Free Foam and helping them understand how to best apply this new foam type in order to maximize results. The companies already began to pursue this goal last week, when they prepared the first lecture and presentation for representatives of the Slovene firefighting community. At the same time, they have also begun to develop new training courses for aviation firefighters in order to fill the identified knowledge gap and equip firefighters with better skills for the future.