Firefighters use wetting agents to make water wetter. The chemicals reduce the surface tension of plain water so it’s easier to spread and soak into objects, which is why it’s known as “wet water.”

Firefighting Foam – Making Water Wetter

As a largely misunderstood firefighting tactic, the use of foam has at times been confusing to the fire service. The result is that many municipal brigades/departments have just avoided the use of foam, especially Class A foam and have transitioned to using emulsifiers or wetting agents.

While the end objective is to stretch valuable and at times limited water resources, it is more important to fully understand the fit for purpose of each of these technologies.This assures that these valuable tools provide maximum benefit. Foam is a very effective firefighting tool for flame knockdown, fire control, extinguishment, and burn-back resistance (Class B foam). Control, extinguishing time, and burn-back resistance are paramount to the safety … Continue Reading (7 minute read)

15 thoughts on “Firefighters use wetting agents to make water wetter. The chemicals reduce the surface tension of plain water so it’s easier to spread and soak into objects, which is why it’s known as “wet water.””

  1. lawful-weevil

    >Alcohol Resistant Aqueous Film Forming Foam ~~Moisture~~ is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.

    -Zoolander

  2. TheScienceGiant

    First it was dry ice. Now it’s wet water. Where does it end?!

  3. DrWildTurkey

    Class A foam is such a pain in the ass, not only does it go bad over time and rot the foam tank, you have to thoroughly rinse the pump after any amount is used.

    Unless the fire is exceptional we never use the foam on the apparatus.

  4. H4R81N63R

    Oh, I have that at home too – soap/detergent!

  5. Dakens2021

    Better known as PFOS/PFAS.

  6. 5-On-A-Toboggan

    I thought the wetting agents were the firefighters they got to pose for their calendar.

  7. BarnacleMcBarndoor

    What would happen if I put it into a humidifier?

    Would it make the moisture more moisterer, or would I need to buy a new humidifier after breaking the moist maker?

  8. mostly_kinda_sorta

    water wetter wets water.

    https://www.redlineoil.com/waterwetter

    I don’t feel like doing the research but I’m pretty sure these are different chemicals with the only similarity being reducing surface tension.

  9. jraw692

    surfactants make water wetter. I know this because I use natural surfactants in the garden.

  10. Trollzilla

    Water is a great example of the difference between adhesion and cohesion. Tell people how sticky water is and wait.

  11. LukeNukem63

    So if there were a hurricane of this stuff, would it actually be one of the wettest from the standpoint of water?

  12. SpaShark

    And some are cancer causing

  13. Warkitz

    Ben Shapiro: That water has a medical problem!

Leave a Comment