The fire suppression agent, Halon is still in use today; however, there is no new production of Halons. While Halon is considered a clean agent by The National Fire Protection Association because it’s electrically non-conducting and does not leave a residue, Halon has an extremely high potential for ozone depletion and contributes to global warming potential. On January 1, 1994, Halon production ceases in compliance with the Montreal Protocol and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The use of Halons has been reducing over the years, but there is still demand for it for specific applications.
What is Halon Gas?
Halon still remains one of the most effective fire extinguishing agents available. There are no federal or state regulations prohibiting the buying, selling, or using a Halon extinguisher or fire suppression system. Halon is a liquefied, compressed gas that extinguishes fires by reacting with the fire's elements and breaks the chemical chain reaction. A fire needs three elements to sustain – oxygen, heat, and fuel. When you disrupt or remove an element, the fire cannot sustain itself.
Halon Gas Effect on Humans
Overall, Halon is safe around humans and can be used in occupied spaces. Halon suppression systems became widely properly because Halon is a low-toxicity, chemically stable compound that does not damage sensitive equipment, documents, and valuable assets. Halon fire suppression systems are still used in places like computer and communication rooms and in several military applications, including on ships, aircrafts, and tanks. The FAA also continues to recommend Halon fire extinguishers for aircrafts because of its effectiveness and ability to be used in closed spaces.
Where is Halon Available?
There are two sources for Halon to recharge your halon fire extinguisher or fire suppression system. The first is from distributors that have stored quantities of Halon for sale. The second is through a Halon Bank, which reclaims Halon from existing systems that are no longer in use or recycles used Halon through filtration, distillation, separation, or other mechanical processes. In response to Halons being phased out, Halon Alternatives Research Corporation (HARC) was formed in 1989 to help aid in the development and approval of environmentally halon replacement. HARC also created a Recycling Code of Practice that provides guidelines for companies to recover and recycle Halon in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
Halon Gas Replacement
While Halons 1301 and 1211 are excellent at extinguishing fires, they have the potential to deplete the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. In response to the end of the production of new Halons, alternative clean agents were developed. Two of the most popular Halon alternatives are 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid and FM-200™. These clean agents have similar benefits of Halon, including being able to be used in occupied spaces and not leaving a residue, so they are safe for equipment and minimize any downtime from a lengthy cleanup. The advantage over Halon is that both 3M Novec 1230 fluid and FM-200™ have an Ozone Depletion Potential of 0 and will not cause harm to the ozone layer. Another clean agent option is CO2. CO2 will not harm the ozone layer or contribute to global warming, but the drawback of using CO2 is that it displaces the oxygen to suppress the fire. This could lead to suffocation when used in occupied spaces. There are numerous Halon replacements out on the market. When selecting a clean agent fire suppression system, it is important to evaluate all of our options.