The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has agreed to sponsor a University of Maryland research project that will delve into the causes, hazards, and associated costs of accidental discharges of foam fire-suppression systems. It will address both high- and low-expansion foam systems in addition to determining the rationale for the requirement of foam systems in the National Fire Protection (NFPA) 409 standard for aircraft hangars. According to the organization, industry feedback indicates a high risk associated with accidental discharges, with significant clean-up and aircraft damage costs as well as possible environmental damage.
“There is significant uncertainty surrounding the benefits versus potential hazards related to hangar foam fire-suppression systems,” stated Gary Dempsey, NATA president and CEO. “NATA members have repeatedly voiced concern that the cost of installing these foam systems dramatically increases the expense of new hangars, while providing limited risk mitigation due to the low incidence of hangar fires.”
The revision cycle for NFPA 409 is currently underway, with industry comments due by November 14. The NFPA’s technical committee will review those comments for consideration in the next standard, which is expected to be published in early 2021.
“We believe that this analysis will confirm what our members have expressed: that the cost of installation, maintenance, and clean-up from false discharges far exceeds the risk reduction of these systems,” Dempsey concluded.