Market Analysis: The future of firefighting foam

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The firefighting foam market witnesses steady growth, driven by evolving industry needs and environmental concerns

The ever-growing emphasis on fire safety, combined with the mounting environmental concerns, has spurred the evolution of the firefighting foam market.

Being a pivotal part of the arsenal against fire-related hazards, especially in high-risk sectors, firefighting foam’s utility spans from aviation to oil & gas.

Custom Market Insights’ (CMI) recent report sheds light on the industry’s trajectories, offering a comprehensive market view.

Firefighting Foam market overview

In 2021, the firefighting foam market was valued at USD 5.5 billion, a testament to its established position in the fire safety landscape.

By 2022, this figure is expected to touch USD 5.8 billion and soar to an impressive USD 6.73 billion by 2030, with a steady CAGR of 3.8% between 2022 and 2030.

Firefighting foam, composed of water, air, and concentrates, isn’t just any fire suppressant; it’s a meticulously designed solution that offers a reliable barrier against fires.

This foam, characterised by a stable mass of air-filled bubbles, has a unique ability to suppress fires by isolating fuel from oxygen.

With a density lower than gasoline, water, and oil, it remains on the surface, providing an effective shield against re-ignition.

Moreover, it has been tailored to address fires involving flammable liquids, offering reliable protection against potential ignition and re-ignition.

In an increasingly industrialised world, the need for such sophisticated fire suppressants becomes more pressing, driving the market’s steady growth.

Growth factors

Rising Incidents of Fire-related Accidents: One of the most immediate factors propelling the demand for firefighting foams is the unsettling increase in fire-related incidents, particularly in high-stakes sectors like oil & gas.

As these sectors continue to expand, the associated fire risks also escalate, necessitating enhanced fire prevention and suppression solutions.

Shift to Environmentally Friendly Solutions: The past decade has seen a significant shift towards environmental consciousness in almost every industry.

In the firefighting foam market, this translates to an increased demand for environment-friendly products.

Traditional firefighting foams, such as AFFF and AR-AFFF, have been associated with environmental concerns.

The industry has responded by developing and promoting fluorine-free foams.

These new-age foams not only match the fire-suppression capabilities of their traditional counterparts but do so without the associated environmental footprint.

They are free from PFAS, PFOS, and PFOA, chemicals of concern in many environmental discussions.

Emerging Oil & Gas Sector: With a surge in global energy needs, the oil & gas sector is expanding at an unprecedented rate.

This expansion, however, brings with it an elevated risk of fires, especially in high-capacity storage and processing facilities.

As a direct result, the demand for firefighting foams, which offer protection against challenging Class A and B fires, has seen a substantial increase.

Consumer Awareness & Regulatory Landscape: Modern consumers are not just passive buyers.

They are informed, environmentally conscious, and demand products that reflect these values.

This consumer push, combined with a stringent regulatory landscape focusing on fire safety and environmental concerns, has spurred the industry towards innovation and the adoption of eco-friendly products.

Market segmentation

The firefighting foam market has diverse product offerings.

The Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) has been a favourite among many due to its rapid suppression of flammable liquid fires.

However, with rising environmental concerns tied to some of its components, there’s an increasing shift towards alternatives.

The Alcohol-Resistant Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AR-AFFF) has been specifically developed for fires that involve alcohol-based risks.

It’s closely followed by Protein Foam, which is derived from animal proteins and offers a more durable and heat-resistant shield, although with a slower spread rate.

The Synthetic Detergent Foam stands out for its adaptability, making it a preferred choice in scenarios that demand versatility.

Lastly, the Fluorine-Free Foam has been gaining traction rapidly.

It has emerged as a solution to the environmental challenges posed by traditional foams, providing an eco-friendly alternative without compromising on fire suppression efficacy.

“During the year, two major multinational players in the firefighting foam market announced their exit from the fluorinated foam market within the next 6 to 18 months,” comments John Olav Ottesen Founder and CEO of Fomtec.

“In the US, the military has introduced a new military specification for PFAS-free firefighting foam for land-based applications.

“In Europe, the European chemicals agency ECHA passed on restriction proposals, and the legislators are moving towards the introduction of new regulations during 2024, that will set timelines for the phase-out of PFAS in firefighting foam.

The foam market is performing strongly and there is a strong demand for foam products globally.

“We still see a high demand for fluorinated foam, but we also see a high demand for fluorine-free foam.

A shift can be seen in the larger multinational end users that all seem to have transition programs ongoing.

All in all, a very exciting time to be in the foam industry.”

Regional Insights

The firefighting foam market’s regional dynamics paint a picture of varied demand and preferences.

North America is characterised by its extensive oil & gas infrastructure and a dense network of airports.

This makes it a major consumer of firefighting foams.

Yet, the stringent environmental standards, particularly in the US, have fostered a rising demand for fluorine-free foam variants.

In Europe, the commitment to environmental sustainability is evident.

European countries have shown a penchant for adopting eco-friendly firefighting solutions, bolstered by regulatory frameworks and increased public awareness.

Asia-Pacific is witnessing a surge in demand due to its rapid industrial growth, with countries like China and India at the helm.

The burgeoning oil & gas sector, along with infrastructural advancements, cements Asia-Pacific’s position in the market.

The Middle East and Africa, housing some of the world’s largest oil repositories, naturally becomes an indispensable market segment.

The continuous investments in oil refineries and transportation channels amplify this demand.

Finally, Latin America, although historically slower in adoption, is displaying promising growth.

Emerging industries and expanding infrastructural projects in the region are driving the demand for firefighting foams.

This article was originally published in the November 2023 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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