Lakeland Linder Regional Airport's newest hangar was filled with roughly 700,000 cubic feet of foam Tuesday, giving city fire inspectors a reasonable expectation that a burning aircraft won't become a burning building.
"It went beautifully," Fire Marshal Cheryl Edwards said of the test of the first fire suppression system of its kind in Lakeland.
Fire inspectors are required to test every fire safety device, she added, but "not all of those tests are this dramatic."
And "we don't usually get spectators."
The downpour sounded like a hard Florida rain storm pelting a metal roof. Small clumps of foam wrapped the main columns of liquid and floated through the area, resembling a cartoonist's version of a bubble bath.
Contractors, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees and city officials cheered when the foam reached the cut-off point after about a minute and a half.
To create the closest thing to a springtime snowfall in Florida, 116 gallons of aqueous film-forming foam, or "A triple-F," were used to fill the 58,000-square-foot hangar with 12 feet of foam. It'll take about 24 hours for the foam to dissipate and drain "like suds in a bathtub," Edward said.