Interview with Dion C LeMieux

Dion C LeMieux is a retired Fire Chief and innovator living in Kentucky, USA. Seeing a need to safely stop the spread of free burning attic fires he invented his AFAST product line. Below are excerpts from correspondence he and I have had.

“The AFAST Nozzle Group stands for: Attic, Fire, Attack, Suppression, Technology. This name was designed by a dear friend in Michigan. It truly makes sense once the technology is applied to FIRE. The group was born in July of 2012. While watching fire videos on a popular internet show “Stater 911” and seeing the number of roofs that firefighters were burning off and eventually completely losing the home, I decided to come up with a tool that could be used to stop the free burning in those attic spaces and stop the destruction.
When I first had the idea to stop the fires in attics and to start of the design of the AFAST 1 Attic stick, I had to look at the delivery system, piping size, tip size and design, hole size and direction, length to accomplish the task and durability. With all those thoughts came achievement. I needed enough water distributed in an area of approximately 30 by 60 feet and no taller than 10 feet as a starting point.

Now, the standard attach hose is 1¾ in size usually coming from a source of 2 inches or more. That stops at the nozzle or ball valve which is normally 1 3/8 opening. With that I took a 1-inch ID aluminum (6061) and put a 1 ½ base female adapter. This pipe is 5 foot long to accommodate the average height of a firefighter to reach an 8-foot-high ceiling and be able to place the pipe high enough into the attic space to distribute the water. Our goal is to distribute 150 to 200 gallons per minute into that attic space in a manner that will cover the entire area in less than 30 seconds. To do that I had to come up with a tip to place on the 1-inch pipe that would do just that and to make the water droplets large enough to absorb the heat quickly for free burning to stop or be disrupted.

This tip is designed for maximum performance at a tip pressure of 125 to 150 PSI. This pressure gives you the 150 to 200 GPM and gives you a distance of 30 feet in circumference. Now just think for a minute… have a fully involved attic space with dark brown smoke coming from the eaves. If you introduce the AFAST 1 into the attic space from a scuddle hole or place the pipe in the middle of a hallway, reach as high as you can, turn the ball valve full on, twist the valve left and right and pivot the pipe left and right, what is happening in that attic space for the next 30 seconds? The dark brown smoke turns white from the outside very quickly. The heat goes from at least 1300 degrees F to 400 within seconds. Pull the pipe out of the hole and it should look black. If you see red, then you must place it in another room and do it again for no more than 30 seconds.

So, the AFAST 1 Attic Stick was manufactured after many hours of research and trial & error with a local fire department. Firefighters around the US have used this tool for many other fire situations other than attic’s and it has worked well every time. To sum this up. The AFAST nozzle system is designed for 1 or 2 firefighter operation with ease and safety. All the pipes have the water curtain design for protection. They are all designed for short duration operation and to stop the FREE Burning in the structure, they are also designed for rapid dismounting from the ball valve if need be. None of the pipes are designed for long duration in a heated atmosphere without water flowing but the brass tip will withstand much pounding without disfiguring the tip. Special note: THESE PIPES ARE NOT PIERCING NOZZLE PIPES. There is no place to pound these pipes.”

Useful links:
Car Fire Attack (interior) using the AFAST-1 nozzle system
AFAST Nozzle

Ralph Briggs

Ralph Briggs

President, Tech Forward Fire Solutions Inc.

Ralph has the unique experience of having worn various generations of PPE as a Toronto Firefighter, working the PPE manufacturer’s side as a Canadian Regional Sales Manager at Innotex Inc., and selling Bunker Gear as a sales rep and business owner. He currently represents Viking PPE ( here at Tech Forward Fire Solutions Ltd.