The provision of fire services, including premises, personnel, appliances and equipment, is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 and fire services are provided by local authorities in accordance with this legislation.
My Department supports fire authorities mainly through setting national policy and co-ordinating its implementation; providing capital funding for fire appliances, emergency equipment and the construction and upgrading of fire stations; centralised training programmes and co-ordination of the development of guidance on operational and other fire service related matters.
Foam products are a widely available firefighting medium, and are most effective in the case of certain categories of fires – for example, fires involving flammable liquids, where the foam layer forms a barrier between the oxygen in the air and the burning liquid. They may also be deployed at hazardous material incidents and some foams are used to improve the 'wetting' capability of water, by reducing its surface tension.
Decisions to deploy foam products are taken at the discretion of incident commanders, drawing from their fire service training and standard operational guidance. Some firefighting foams can have effects on the environment, and fire services incident commanders balance the use of and the amounts of foam deployed, taking account of the particular circumstances of each case.
Information regarding the specific makeup of firefighting foams in use by individual fire services is not available in my Department. However, I understand that fire services generally carry a range of foam in stock suitable for the identified fire risks within their functional areas.