The FAA completed construction and opened a new indoor fire research facility in December to conduct performance tests of potential replacement fire extinguishing agents.
The work conducted in this new $5 million, 2,500 square-foot facility will support research on fluorine-free firefighting foams.
The fully enclosed fire-test facility will eliminate weather related variables in testing and enhance data collection capabilities. It will also contain and collect the byproducts of fire testing chemicals and prevent any contamination of the surrounding area and ground water, allowing for more frequent and efficient testing.
Construction of the new facility started in November 2018 and FAA researchers began testing this month.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed the agency to stop requiring the use of fluorinated chemicals in aircraft firefighting foams within three years. Fluorine-free foams on the market today do not match the performance of their fluorinated counterparts.
The current firefighting foam is a highly effective combatant to jet fuel fires, but it has also generated concerns over potential environmental and health impacts. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a potentially hazardous group of chemicals found in current firefighting foams used at airports.