What is a CAF Unit or System?
A well functioning CAF System is a highly engineered machine.
CAF is actually a very simple process. Mix water, concentrate and compressed air.
The system that does this can be a simple limited duration stored energy system (consisting of a tank of water/concentrate mix and a stored compressed air tank), or a complicated, well engineered machine of unlimited duration, automatically mixing the appropriate amounts of water, concentrate and air to deliver the bubbles desired for the tasks at hand. The stored energy system is similar to a pressurized fire extinguisher, used for initial attack on small fires. For regular department fire fighting purposes, an automatic, engineered system will provide better service.
Basically, what is a fire engine?
A fire engine is a pump, a water tank and 4 wheels.
Basically, what is a CAF engine?
A CAF engine is a fire engine (see above) adding a foam concentrate tank, a proportioner, and an air compressor system. Of course, to make it all work smoothly, an engineered system will have lots of valves, meters and filters. The design, engineering, number of valves, meters and filters will vary by manufacturer.
Can a fire engine be converted to CAF?
In most cases Ė Yes. A department needs to assess the age of the truck, compared to the cost of the upgrade and considering the expected life left in the truck. Many fire engines have successfully been upgraded. The cost would be based on the size and condition of the current pump, manifold, space available for the compressor system and proportioner, the type and size of system desired, and labor needed to fit it all together. Obtaining ballpark figures will give an idea if it is feasible to convert a particular engine. As an example, this engine was originally a 1978 LaFrance and was converted to a new body in the 1990's. Then a CAF system was added.
Should a department convert all of its equipment to CAF?
That would be great, but thatís a decision for local government. It would require a tremendous immediate expense. Many communities are switching to CAFís through attrition of apparatus, buying all new scheduled apparatus CAF capable. The attrition process softens the upfront $ cost and also allows the department personnel to smoothly convert to the CAF process.
See Also - CAF Unit Design Considerations and CAF System Manufacturers!!!
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