BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A new tool that could help firefighters fight fires more efficiently is being put to the test in South Mississippi.
The Gulfport Fire Department recently hosted a demonstration of a fire suppression additive called F-500, and the chemical is now being field-tested by the Biloxi Fire Department.
A vacant parking lot at the old Mercy Cross High School provides the perfect proving grounds for F-500.
"Kind of work with it a little bit and see how we like it, and how it works," said trainer Robert Hornsby.
Not a total water replacement, F-500 works in combination with water to efficiently extinguish fires faster.
"This chemical breaks it down - the molecular structure of the fire - to where you're using less water and a more efficient way of putting the fire out," said Wes Small, Biloxi fire training officer.
To test the product, firefighters torched piles of pallets and tires. One pile was extinguished with only water, the other with the water that contained the additive.
In a side-by-side comparison, firefighters say the F-500 outperformed the plain water.
"Water conservation, I would say, is one of the larger benefits. That, and quicker knock down," said Hornsby. "Quicker knock down, you're able to get the fire under control and start extinguishing it quicker, which helps limit loss to property."
The test used F-500 mixed through engine hoses, but the chemical can also be deployed with portable packs.
"You can use them on the Pro-Packs...like small trash, dumpster fires, car fires," said Small.
So far, F-500 gets a thumbs up. Training officers say one big benefit about the F-500 is its versatility. It can be used on a wide range of applications, from house fires to chemical and gas fires.
"Very impressed. We've tried a couple other things. Foam solutions and things like that," said Hornsby.
However, fire departments must also consider the cost.
"It is a little bit more of an added cost at first. But the amount of water you save, it sort of helps balance it out," Small explained.
The next step for department is testing the chemical on actual fire calls.