ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The FAA opened a new indoor fire research facility in December 2019 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, FAA officials said.
The fully enclosed fire-test facility will eliminate weather related variables in testing and enhance data collection capabilities, according to agency officials.
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, they report.
Construction of the new facility started in November 2018.
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, FAA officials note.
The current firefighting foam is highly effective, but it has 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, FAA officials said.