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Redding company uses foam to save homes from wildfires worldwide

KRCR Chico-Redding logo KRCR Chico-Redding 8/12/2021 Aaron Spurlock, Mike Mangas
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A family-run Redding organization is in the business of putting out fires literally around the world.

The Tri-Max Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) has been around for almost 25 years, headquartered in a building near Redding Municipal Airport. These systems are used by the military, heavy equipment, NASA, the oil industry, and can be used on structures. The Antelope Creek Lodge in Siskiyou County and any buildings around it that had been sprayed with the foam survived the Antelope Fire.

Company Co-Founder Dave Mahrt let KRCR try it out. He says water quickly runs off structures and evaporates.

“But the foam sticks and stays,” Mahrt said. “It’s got millions of tiny foam bubbles and each bubble has a little bit of moisture in it. So, that sticks against the structure, and if the structure happens to be wood, then the foam will actually be penetrating. It will be sucked into the wood just like if the wood were a sponge. “

He says a woman in Paradise had a system and her home was one of the few that survived the 2018 Camp Fire.

“The trees right next to the road were on fire, rolling over on the of the road when she left. She came back a few hours later [her home was] still there,” Mahrt said.

The systems consist of compressed air to force the foam out of tanks that range from three to hundreds of gallons.

Dave says a home system costs between $10,000 and $12,000. Not cheap, but neither is homeowners insurance in outlying areas if you can even get it.

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