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Four crash and fire rescue Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 test out the Tri-Max 3 from Kingsway Sales and Marketing Cold Compressed Air Fire Suppression Technologies. The unit weighs 36 pounds and can produce 60 gallons of compressed air foam to extinguish fires. Tri-Max brought several products to be tested out at the Combat Center here October 5.

Photo by Pfc. Regina N. Ortiz

New equipment for firefighters proves to be safer, more effective

5 Oct 2005 | Pfc. Regina N. Ortiz

Technology keeps growing and advancing to levels that keep society improving. There is a need to constantly seek new and improved ways to conserve, prevent and cure. The times when the most effective measures seem to have been found, there is someone that feels there is a better way, someone like Dave Mahrt.

Mahrt is the inventor of Kingsway’s Tri-Max Cold Compressed Air Fire Suppression, foam fire suppression products. Tri-Max Cold C.A.F.S. is a replacement for the Halon 1211 firefighting systems used today.

The system works by injecting compressed air into a water-foam concentrate solution, which produces the cold C.A.F.S. National Bureau of Standards testing indicates that a given volume of high-energy foam has up to 20 times the effective wetting capability of the same volume of plain water, according to the Tri-Max Web site.

Mahrt has designed easy-to-maneuver forms of the product: the Tri-Max 3, Tri-Max 30, Tri-Max 60 and Tri-Max 120. Each one of the versions can be easily transported with the designed mounts created by Kingsway.

On Oct. 5, Mahrt and the Kingsway team brought several of the systems for the crash and fire rescue specialists of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 to test.

The systems were tested out in several fire scenarios: in a fire pit, on a tent and on a humvee; all the scenarios were created at the Combat Center’s Expeditionary Air Field.

The Marines practiced using each version of the system on the mounts provided.

Private First Class Michael Chesnik, crash and fire rescue specialist from MWSS-374, was the first Marine to test out the Tri-Max 120 from the back of a truck with a 100-foot hose.

“The hose was a lot lighter than the hose in the Halon system we usually use,” said Chesnik. “It’s a lot safer and more effective. The fire went out and stayed out.”

The system creates a vapor seal foam blanket that keeps the fire from reigniting.
Halon has proven toxic to the ozone and dangerous to a person’s health. When firefighters use Halon 1211 to extinguish fires, the Environmental Protection Agency must be notified. When Tri-Max is used, no one is required to be informed of the use, said Chesnik.

During the next test-fire, Marines used the Tri-Max 3, the smaller fire-extinguisher-like version.

“When we use the Halon firefighting system, we have to put on our full gear, which can take away minutes from putting out the fire,” said Lance Cpl. Michelle L. O’Halloran. “The Tri-Max system is safe enough to use without any protective gear.”

The Army and some Marine Corps units have already adopted the system.

“We are impressed with the capabilities,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mitchell E. Ferrell, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting, Officer in Charge, Airfield Company, MWSS-374. “It’s proven better than what we currently have because it does the job with smaller units. I hope we get the system implemented in the Marine Corps.”

After testing was complete, the Marines involved held a discussion about the new system.
There were positive points made, and few negative points made; all in all, the Marines had seen the potential of the systems and considered the testing the first in a series of new exercises.

The Tri-Max Cold C.A.F.S. system is able to diminish Class A fires, that include common combustibles like wood, paper or cloth; Class B fires, which include flammable liquids and gases like gasoline, propane and solvents; and Class C fires that are electrical equipment fires that can be computers or fax machines.
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