Meet the Formulator: Fluorine foams remain indispensable to industrial firefighting, expert says

Hubert Mitch Hubert
Opponents of firefighting foam containing fluorinated chemicals fail to fairly weigh the overwhelming benefits of these products against evidence that exposure can ultimately lead to adverse health effects in humans, said Mitch Hubert, a leading chemist or “formulator” working in this specialized market. Speaking to an international audience of industrial fire responders in October, Hubert said that fluorinated foams are under attack from an environmental standpoint on a worldwide basis.  “That has really led us to a crossroads in the firefighting foam industry,” he said. “Do we stay with fluorinated foams or go to non-fluorinated foams? There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides of that argument.” Chief among the disadvantages for industrial firefighters is the lack of a substantial track record of success using non-fluorinated foam, Hubert said. “Fluorine free foams have not proven to be as effective in large catastrophic fire,” he said. “This is much of what the...
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Auxquimia pushes forward on C6 fluorine fire foam chemistry

  When foam is discussed at fire conferences worldwide talk about tighter regulations owing to environmental concern dominates. At least as much attention should be given to performance, said fire foam executive Javier Castro Bigotes.  “I’m not saying that the environment is not important, but so is performance,” Castro said. “This business is not only about making foam. It’s about extinguishing fires.” Javier Castro, general manager of Auxquimia Fire Fighting Products, addressed attendees at one such firefighting conference – the U.S. Fire Pump “Big Water” Symposium in November in Baton Rouge, LA. While introducing Castro, leading innovator in industrial firefighting Dwight Williams announced that he would be teaming with Auxquimia to produce a “signature” fire foam that will bear his name. “We got together and talked,” Williams said. “We have a product that is extremely close to everything I wanted.  The new product is scheduled to hit the market in January,...
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A new generation of "snake oil" fire foam products

When I joined the fire service in 1966, it was easy to tell the difference between ‘pretenders’ and ‘performers.’ Pretenders, because they knew they would fail a real performance test, would use what I call ‘snake oil sales’ tactics to move their product. Popular among the ‘pretender’ testing tactics include small test pits with thin-skinned fuel loads (just enough fuel to last until the start of foam application), or overwhelming application rates for the liquid surface of the test area. I learned early on in my career to stay away from these so called tests. The worst thing a supplier of products that need to perform could do was let his customers believe that these results really meant something. The pretender foam supplier would claim his product worked as well as real perfromers. At the end of such a test, victory would be proclaimed with ‘high fives for all, free hot...
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