Griffiss International Airport Hangar Renovation and Fire Suppression System

Griffiss Technology Park sits on the site of the former Griffiss Air Force Base. After the base was closed by the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, Oneida County officials managed to turn this economic challenge into a success story. The base was successfully converted into a civilian airfield, replacing the existing Oneida County Airport. The facility now supports a host of diverse businesses, such as aircraft maintenance and repair, distribution centers, technology companies, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Building 100, a 104,000-square-foot aircraft hangar, was originally used for the storage and maintenance of military aircraft when the park was an active Air Force base. Oneida County commissioned C&S to upgrade the hangar with a new and improved foam fire suppression system so it could support the storage and maintenance of larger aircraft. After an extensive evaluation of the hangar’s existing low-expansion aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) system, C&S determined the cost and benefits of repairing the existing system were approximately the same as installing a new high-expansion foam system. A high-expansion foam system better serves the needs of the facility because of its ability to appropriately protect the silhouette of a constantly changing aircraft parking plan and the foam concentrate is a more environmentally friendly. High expansion foam systems are routinely specified to protect U.S. mission-critical aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets, C-130 transports, KC-135 air refueling tankers, and the massive C-5 transport planes.

The existing AFFF systems were installed in the mid 1980s and had to be completely demolished, except for existing roof-level sprinkler piping and heat detection systems. The high-expansion foam system was designed using a combination of National Fire Protection Association, Air Force, and Air National Guard design criteria. The goal of the installation was to protect aircraft and the building from fire. The system also needed to minimize collateral damage and permit rapid restoration of aircraft maintenance operations. The high-expansion foam option provided a cost-effective solution and was scalable enough to protect both large and small aircraft.

The Griffiss contract was one of the largest single equipment orders for generators and foam system hardware in the Northeast in 2006, and one of the largest high-expansion foam systems installed in the U.S. The installation consisted of 28 JET-X-15A generators, two 700-gallon horizontal bladder tanks, one 100-gallon vertical bladder tank, four 6-inch proportioners, eight 100-foot hose reels, and more than 2,000 gallons of foam concentrate.

The project team was faced with a very challenging schedule—the design, installation, commissioning, and final acceptance testing was to be completed in three months—which was necessary to minimize the amount of interruption caused by moving all the aircraft from the old to the new airport. The project was actually completed approximately two weeks ahead of schedule.

After the high-expansion foam system was installed, full discharge tests were successfully completed. One of the occupancy requirements for Building 100 was that the foam suppression system needed to completely cover the area within five feet of the exterior walls within three minutes. The JET-X system fulfilled the requirement in under two minutes.

Oneida County now has more than 100,000 square feet of hangar space where they can store and/or maintain aircraft protected by one of the most high-tech special hazard fire protection systems available today.