The objective of this Statement of Need (SON) was to develop novel methodologies for quantitatively evaluating the effectiveness of firefighting formulations against realistic threats presented by Class B liquid pool fires. Proposed efforts should have developed objective test methods to measure control, containment, edge effects and burnback, as well as other relevant performance characteristics (e.g.,flickering, flashover, vapor permeability, heat flux, etc.) that can be correlated with extinguishment performance on liquid pool fires using a variety of fuel threats, including jet fuel, gasoline and other flammable liquids. Successful proposals will introduce methods that provide repeatable, measurable metrics for foams across a variety of conditions and users.
Proposals could focus on developing new bench and full-scale analytical techniques and/or instrumentation to determine minimum performance requirements that are needed to mitigate fires in operational environments that could be incorporated into future military specifications. Proposals could conduct bench scale (comparable to 1 ft2 fires) that can be correlated to larger test methods and/or develop larger test scenarios that best represent the threats faced by DoD firefighters.
In addition, proposals were sought to develop new training techniques to reduce the environmental impact of live fire training with foam agents, while maintaining or improving firefighter readiness. Training methodologies should have reflected realistic threats in DoD relevant environments, while reducing or eliminating air and water emissions from training.
The outcome of this SON will enable researchers to evaluate firefighting formulation efficacy rapidly and enable development of safe, high-performance formulations. Technologies could streamline qualification of formulations and reduce variability between test agencies. In addition, novel training methodologies will increase the likelihood of success for effectively fielding firefighting formulations that are free of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to threats posed across the spectrum of DoD applications. The deployment of these new products provides the opportunity to revisit firefighter training that has been restricted due to environmental risks associated with AFFF. Novel training methodologies will increase firefighter readiness across DoD and better prepare the first responder for real world threats.
The DoD requires the capability to protect Warfighters, weapon systems and facilities from the risk of fire in the most extreme environments. As a result, DoD sets the worldwide standard for the most stringent performance requirements for aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) for use on Class B liquid pool fires. Firefighting foams can be qualified to multiple industry specifications, including UL-162, ICAO and LASTFIRE, using different test methodologies, albeit with less stringent performance requirements. Each test and qualification provide a specific/different level of performance against hazards associated with active threats. Test requirements have been developed and refined over the past four decades based on significant test history (with PFAS-containing foams) that correlates large scale, realistic fire scenarios to performance in the 28 ft2 test.
Historically, military foams have required the use of PFAS to meet extinguishment and burn back requirements; however, evolving regulatory changes, both domestically and internationally, have required the development of PFAS-free firefighting foams. To develop the highest performing PFAS-free foams, new, more precise test methodologies, material characterization and qualification testing are needed to continue to push technology development. PFAS-free foams have different characteristics and material properties that impact their performance in a fire scenario. Screening (bench-scale) tests can be used to more efficiently downselect the next generation of foams for further evaluation. New test methodologies or performance requirements may be incorporated into future specification revisions for both shore- and sea-based applications.
Since the prohibition of training with PFAS-containing firefighting foams, military firefighting training has relied on simulated fire scenarios (typically propane burners) that are manually turned off once the instructor determines that an adequate amount of a surrogate (water) has been applied to the fire. Realistic live-fire training with fielded firefighting agents is vital to maintaining readiness across DoD, and the transition to PFAS-free foams may require additional training.
The cost and time to meet the requirements of this SON were at the discretion of the proposer. Proposers submitting a Standard Proposal had to provide the rationale for this scale. The two options were as follows:
Standard Proposals: These proposals describe a complete research effort. The proposer should incorporate the appropriate time, schedule, and cost requirements to accomplish the scope of work proposed. SERDP projects normally run from two to five years in length and vary considerably in cost consistent with the scope of the effort. It is expected that most proposals will fall into this category.
Limited Scope Proposals: Proposers with innovative approaches to the SON that entail high technical risk or have minimal supporting data may submit a Limited Scope Proposal for funding up to $250,000 and approximately one year in duration. Such proposals may be eligible for follow-on funding if they result in a successful initial project. The objective of these proposals should be to acquire the data necessary to demonstrate proof-of-concept or reduction of risk that will lead to development of a future Standard Proposal. Proposers should submit Limited Scope Proposals in accordance with the SERDP Core Solicitation instructions and deadlines.