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Effects of fire-fighting media on people, property and the environment:

Water Based
Effect on: Risk: Water   Water plus Additive Foam Wet Chemical
People Toxicological None unless contaminated by toxic substances None unless contaminated by toxic substances None unless contaminated by toxic substances None unless contaminated by toxic substances
Respiratory None unless bacterially by toxic substances None unless bacterially by toxic substances None unless bacterially by toxic substances None unless bacterially by toxic substances
Dermatological No risk to user Wetting or foaming additive may be an irritant Wetting or foaming additive may be an irritant Wetting or foaming additive may be an irritant
Electrical User at high risk of electrocution if used on live electrics User at high risk of electrocution if used on live electrics User at high risk of electrocution if used on live electrics User at high risk of electrocution if used on live electrics
Noise Minimal Noise Minimal Noise Minimal Noise Minimal Noise
Visual No risk to user No risk to user No risk to user No risk to user
Cooling No risk to user No risk to user No risk to user Some risk to user if 'slop-over' of hot fat occurs
Property Wetting Variable risk to materials that are destroyed, deteriorate or degrade upon wetting Variable risk to materials that are destroyed, deteriorate or degrade upon wetting Variable risk to materials that are destroyed, deteriorate or degrade upon wetting Variable risk to materials that are destroyed, deteriorate or degrade upon wetting
Corrosive Risk to metals (patricularly iron/steel) including internal workings of machinery/electrical Risk to metals (patricularly iron/steel) including internal workings of machinery/electrical - also, risk of corrosion to other materials.  Careful clean-up afterwards of equipment/ materials wetted in the courseof fire-fighting may be required Risk to metals (patricularly iron/steel) including internal workings of machinery/electrical - also, risk of corrosion to other materials.  Careful clean-up afterwards of equipment/ materials wetted in the courseof fire-fighting may be required Risk to metals (patricularly iron/steel) including internal workings of machinery/electrical - also, risk of corrosion to other materials.  Careful clean-up afterwards of equipment/ materials wetted in the courseof fire-fighting may be required
Cooling No risk to property No risk to property No risk to property No risk to property
Electrical Risk to electrical equipment through short-circuiting Risk to electrical equipment through short-circuiting Risk to electrical equipment through short-circuiting Risk to electrical equipment through short-circuiting
Environment Atmospheric No risk to environment No risk to environment No risk to environment No risk to environment
Groundwater No risk to environment Has a groundwater impact - must be collected for disposal or discharged to foul sewer only Has a groundwater impact - must be collected for disposal or discharged to foul sewer only Has a groundwater impact - must be collected for disposal or discharged to foul sewer only
Hazardous Waste No risk to environment Classed as hazardous waste for disposal Classed as hazardous waste for disposal Classed as hazardous waste for disposal
Gaseous Powder
Effect on: Risk: Carbon Dioxide Gaseous
(Halon replacement types)
Powder
(ABC and BC types)
Powder
(D Class)
People Toxicological No risk to user Dependant upon gas type and concentration - may be toxic to user Commonly used powders are non toxic Some D class powders react with metal fires to produce toxic fumes
Respiratory No risk under normal usage - higher risk in confined spaces Dependant upon gas type and concentration - may be respiratory risk to user Risk to user of irritation to respiratory tract and lungs (patricularly if susceptible - e.g. asthmatic) Risk to user upon operation unless appropriate respiratory apparatus used
Dermatological No risk to user No risk to user Powder (particluarly if wetted) may be an irritant Powder (particluarly if wetted) may be an irritant
Electrical No risk to user No risk to user No risk to user No risk to user
Noise Very noisy - may startle user upon operation Very noisy - may startle user upon operation Very noisy - may startle user upon operation Minimal Noise
Visual Visual impairment during operation which ceases after discharge Visual impairment during operation which ceases after discharge Considerable visual impairment during operation which continues after discharge No risk to user
Cooling May cause frost-burns to user if used incorrectly May cause frost-burns to user if used incorrectly No risk to user No risk to user
Property Wetting No risk to property No risk to property No risk to property No risk to property
Corrosive None - clean agent leaving no residue and requiring no clean-up Clean agent leaving no residue and requiring no clean-up.  some gases decompose upon use on a fire and produce corrosive decomposition products Risk to materials when wetted of potentially forming a 'baked' on acidic layer that can be corrosive.  Discharged powder may remain in the air for some time necessitating more than one clean-up Risk to materials when wetted of potentially forming a 'baked' on acidic layer that can be corrosive.  Discharged powder may remain in the air for some time necessitating more than one clean-up.  Some D class powders are salts and therefore corrosive
Cooling May cause thermal damage to electrical components May cause thermal damage to electrical components No risk to property No risk to property
Electrical No risk to property No risk to property Risk to electrical equipment through 'baking' onto components Risk to electrical equipment through 'baking' onto components.  Some D class powders are salts and therefore corrosive
Environment Atmospheric Has a global warming potential (GWP) but is not subject to environmental controls Has a global warming potential (GWP)  and atmospheric lifetime (ATL) depending upon the gas type.  May be subject to environmental controls depending upon gas type and volume No risk to environment No risk to environment
Groundwater No risk to environment No risk to environment No risk to environment No risk to environment
Hazardous Waste No risk to environment Subject to environmental controls for disposal Classed as hazardous waste for disposal Classed as hazardous waste for disposal