Claremont firefighter sees future in soy-based fire suppressant

April 10, 2024

Firefighters will soon be able to effectively suppress flames with environmentally friendly, biodegradable SoyFoam TF 1122, which is made from soy flour. Claremont, South Dakota farmer Matt McCranie, who is also a volunteer firefighter for his community, went with other South Dakota soybean growers to Georgia, where SoyFoam is made.

“We were able to demo it ourselves in a couple of scenarios and get some first-hand use of testing SoyFoam,” explained McCranie. “It worked as a foam should. There was nothing that jumped out to me that it wouldn’t perform how we need it to when we need to use a foam of some sort. It’s Class A/B foam and it’ll work on your Class A, your combustibles and then your B, liquids, so we were able to use it in both scenarios down there to put out fire with it.”

McCranie’s take on the product is that when it is more widely available, it will be much better for the environment and the firefighters themselves.

“The SoyFoam is definitely more eco-friendly,” said McCranie, about the soy-based product. “It is 84 percent bio-based; a large portion of that is made from soybean flour. And the biodegradability of it is going to make it way more eco-friendly than anything we’re using now.”

“You get the same and just as effective firefighting and foaming properties of a fire foam in this SoyFoam,” he added, “and not the harmful effects for firefighters or the environment.”

As McCranie looks over his unplanted fields, his observation is that there hasn’t been much snow, which gives him pause when considering the greater likelihood of responding to calls to extinguish grass and brush fires. On the other hand, from a farming standpoint, he says the lesser amount of snowfall makes up for “massive amounts” of snow that fell last year.

“I think, for the most part, things are looking good; field conditions, I think, so far will be good. We’ll see how spring progresses here for us,” he ventured. “We might be anywhere from a week, to two or three or so from being in the field, hopefully.”

McCranie, the son of South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council board member Michael McCranie, anticipates beginning fieldwork by the end of April and says he hopes to be planting corn by then. He’s also confident that field conditions will allow good progress once planting begins.

Understandably, McCranie and others in similar positions hope for as few fire and medical emergencies as possible, but he and other volunteers are ready to respond when calls happen.

“Just kind of stop what you’re doing and go respond to the incident,” said McCranie, about being interrupted during fieldwork. “[A volunteer] kind of always has to be prepared for anything, really, at the drop of a hat.”

Also on the trip to Georgia, along with South Dakota Soybean board members and staff, was firefighter Andy Weisser, an Edmonds County farmer, South Dakota Soybean Association board member, and assistant chief of the Roscoe, South Dakota, Volunteer Fire Department. In previous reporting by the South Dakota Soybean Network, Weisser shared his own opinions about SoyFoam’s performance and eco-friendliness, many of which parallel how McCranie rates the product.