Foam Fire Suppression Systems Slated for ID Upgrade

Changes will improve consistency for AHJ assessment

Foam fire extinguishing systems are highly effective against ignitable liquid fires, and are often used to protect aircraft hangers, storage tanks, ships, warehouses, oil-filled transformers, boiler rooms, gas stations, petrochemical plants, heliports, jet engine test facilities and LNG storage.

FM Approvals has tested and certified foam fire suppression systems for many years using Approval Standard 5130, Foam Extinguishing Systems, which encompasses several types of systems, including low expansion, high expansion, and compressed air foam (CAF) systems. 

Manufacturers of FM Approved foam fire suppression systems have always been required to label their systems; however, identification of the multiple components that make up foam systems is sometimes inconsistent. This creates a challenge for authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and others who need to be able to assess fire protection and other systems. 

“It has come to our attention through audits and other sources that it can be difficult in many cases to identify exactly what components were included as part of the foam system at a particular site,” says Dave Fuller, FM Approvals vice president and manager of the fire protection group. “We are working with manufacturers to determine a design for a master label that will provide a complete record of all foam suppression system components as supplied by the manufacturer.” 

While only devices and foam concentrates that have been tested and FM Approved together for use in a particular foam suppression system can be installed as part of that system—e.g., control devices, concentrate supply, proportioners, valves, monitors, nozzles, etc.—until now, there has been no requirement for a single, master label or plaque listing all components in the system.

“We are working to develop a design for a master label that will be able to contain and list all components associated with that FM Approved foam system,” says FM Approvals assistant vice president and technical team manager Brian MacDonald. “The lead manufacturer will provide the master label and the system distributor or installer would list the other, FM Approved, elements that make up the certified system. We are already working with manufacturers and hope to finalize a design this year and update our standard to require it.” 

Manufacturers are increasingly finding it necessary to rely on multiple facilities for distribution and installation, which can make it more challenging to ensure a complete FM Approved foam fire suppression system is being supplied. An all-inclusive label that identifies all components of an FM Approved foam fire suppression system will improve transparency and accountability and allow authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and facility owners and operators to clearly see what is included in the system.