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Foam V's Hydrospray

Guest Robert Voss

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Guest Robert Voss

According to my service engineer, all foam and wet chemical extinguishers must be replaced, when due, with hydrospray type extinguishers to be in accordance with the Environmental Agencies drive to eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants. This is set to happen over a 5 year period. Is this correct?


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Hi Robert 

There are several issues with the engineer's information.

Yes, extinguishers with POPs such as AFFF fire extinguishers will eventually be replaced or re-filled with fluoride-free alternatives. The exact time and rules are still being clarified. There is currently still a few years to go before these extinguishers have to be addressed, though. There is certainly no point changing/refilling any foam extinguishers early, as the chemicals have already been manufactured and the extinguishers should be used until their usefulness expires. It is very important at that point, though, to have the extinguishers properly recycled. The foam must not be allowed to be disposed off into toilets, gardens, surface drains etc!

'Water-with-Additives', such as Hydrospray, can also contain AFFF, albeit at a lower concentration, and are therefore not necessarily a good replacement.

Should your existing foam or water-with-additives extinguishers come to the end of their life it definitely makes good sense to replace them with fluoride-free alternatives. Ordinary water, de-ionised water mist and some eco foam extinguishers are available.


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As is sadly too common the service (sales?) engineer has taken a gem of truth and bent it to suit their revenue needs.

- Fluorosurfactants are now regulated with older versions of foam prohibited (but no extinguisher with these, if serviced and refilled or replaced correctly over the years should still be in service) and the current versions (less damaging, but still persistent enough to be a problem) to be withdrawn, however the timeline isn't out yet.

- Fluorine free foam extinguishers will come in to replace these, whilst available in Europe for some time they aren't yet on the UK market, but foam will still be an option in future

- Whilst a small number of water additive extinguishers and some F class extinguishers (usually the ABF rated foams and some ABF rated Wet Chemicals, but not the AF rated ones) do contain fluorosurfactants increasing numbers do not and these would not automatically be affected by any foam replacement timeline.

- Hydrospray (which is a Chubb Fire trademark) or as generically called Water with Additive extinguishers are not a drop in replacement for Foam or Wet Chemical as they are only suitable for Class A (solids) fires not the Class B (liquid) fires that foam is mainly for or the Class F (cooking oils) fires Wet Chemical is intended for, so is a very poor & even dangerous suggestion for a replacement

- That having been said, foam has been over sold for decades and many situations don't need it. Unless you have a contained Class B risk you don't need foam and a 6 litre plain water spray provides comparable Class A & 35kV protection to a 6 litre foam

- A chemical free alternative to Wet Chemical for Class F fires is Water Mist

- A foam alternative for Class B fires doesn't exist where the risk is contained and in depth (hence why new foams have been developed to replace the current ones) but for shallow, spill and running fires Powder is effective as is CO2 for small indoor risks. Water Mist also has an unofficial Class B rating for small risks (similar to that of CO2)

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