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Firefighting Foam Storage: What You Need to Know

Firefighting foam is commonly used at airports, hangars and other locations where hazardous fires can occur. The foaming agent used in the foam in most cases is a surfactant based chemical. Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids, or a liquid and a solid. Dishwashing liquid is a surfactant—and like firefighting foam, it foams up when it mixes with water.


Surfactants also known as a reagant can break down linear polyethylene. In fact, we use a reagant called o-Xylene in our quality assurance tests to dissolve linear polyethylene. That’s why it’s important not to store your firefighting foam in a linear polyethylene tank. Otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble.

Storage Requirements for Firefighting Foam

Cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) tanks are designed to withstand surfactants and perform for decades. There are other viable systems available, but XLPE tanks match their performance at a third of the price. XLPE is the most cost-effective material for storing firefighting foam. National companies prefer to use our tanks because of their cost-effectiveness.

In addition, it is critical that fittings do not use linear polyethylene materials. Some common PVC fittings use bolts with heads that are encapsulated with linear polyethylene. Firefighting foam will come into contact with those bolt heads, which can lead to cracking and potential leaking over time. To address this issue, Poly Processing Company has engineered more robust fitting selections to meet the demands of storing surfactants.

During an emergency, it is important that all of the foam is fully drained from the storage system. Most full-drain storage tanks don’t actually provide a full drain, because the drain inserts must be installed or molded above the knuckle radius. Poly Processing’s Slope-Bottom IMFO® System is the only crosslinked polyethylene chemical tank that provides 100% drainage, without manual clean-out. It is also the industry standard for storing surfactant based materials. With the IMFO, all bolts and fittings are on the exterior of the storage tank. Only the cross-linked polyethylene comes in contact with the firefighting foam stored within the tank.

Custom Storage Solutions for Firefighting Foam

For a robust, cost-effective firefighting foam storage system, cross-linked polyethylene is the material of choice. Talk to a chemical storage tank expert about our customized storage solutions for firefighting foam.

Topics: Chemicals