The FAA has officially opened its new indoor fire research facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The agency says the $5 million facility will be used to support research and conduct testing on fluorine-free firefighting foams. The project is being conducted in order to address a directive laid out in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 that calls for 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,” the FAA said. “The current firefighting foam is a highly effective combatant to jet fuel fires, but it has also 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.”
According to the FAA, the 2,500 square-foot, fully enclosed fire-test facility will “eliminate weather related variables in testing and enhance data collection capabilities” along with containing and collecting fire testing chemical byproducts and preventing contamination of the surrounding area. Construction began in November 2018 and was completed in December 2019. Researchers started work at the location this month.