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halon 1301, halon 2402, halon 1211: replacing halon gas
 
Like many things in life there are no absolutes, the choice of a replacement for your halon based system will depend upon many factors. Most of these have been outlined on this site but the final decision can only be taken after consulting all the interested parties.

This site provides an overview of the available options only. We have available full technical and chemical specifications for the alternatives listed together with information on where to go for industry opinion.

As a customer focused organisation we will supply what our customers request - this could be a halon refill at this moment in time (January 2001). We would not, however install a new halon based system.

We have installed many different types of extinguishing systems and the demise of halon has opened up the choice of available solutions. Some of our customers have removed halon extinguishing systems and not replaced them with any gaseous based agents but opted for the very quickest detection of a fire condition by the use of aspirating (VESDA® & HSSD® type products) fire detection equipment. Others have taken the closest alternative gaseous agent and others an inerting agent. Water based systems are now increasing in popularity as organisations start to understand their operation.
 
 
     
 
A question often asked of our sales staff is " what is the safest" or "best product", the purpose of the question is obviously to extract from us a simple answer that will give the customer peace of mind that a particular system will provide the same protection as their old halon system, be as safe or safer than the old system and of course last but not least, will the system have any impact on the environment. We have to be honest in our reply and say that all extinguishants have their draw backs - even water based systems. If they are harmless to the environment - they may need significant clean up, if they are fast effective chemicals they may contribute to global warming, if they are naturally occurring substances already contained within the atmosphere, their extended discharge times may allow the fire to produce greater quantities of harmful substances which could injure personnel and cause greater property damage. 

The only answer is to evaluate the risk and select the best available product to reduce that risk to an acceptable level - a compromise, but what's new?

Frequently Asked Questions about Halon 1301
 
- What is Halon 1301?
- Are there other halons?
- What is the Montreal Protocol?
- What is the Kyoto Protocol?
- What are CFCs?
- Why replace Halon?
- When does it need replacing?
- What happens to the Halon?
- Who will be exempt?
- Is there a "Drop In" replacement?
- What is the nearest alternative?
- Should I look at other alternatives?
- What will it cost to replace?
Water mist installation

What is Halon 1301
Chemically - BTM (bromotrifluoromethane) 1301: An excellent fire extinguishing agent (gas) currently installed in thousands of locations throughout the world protecting sensitive electronic equipment, typically found in computer rooms, telecommunications centres, data processing environments, aviation and may other places.

Are there other Halons
Yes and some are used in Fire Protection. Where could you find others? - As refrigerant gases.

What is the Montreal Protocol
An agreement reached by signatory nations in Montreal Canada on the 16 September 1987 (amended twice since signing). As part of the United Nations Environmental Program, a goal has been set to initially control and further eliminate global emissions of ozone depleting chemical compounds.

Problem chemicals were defined into a list and a time set for their removal from production together with the agreement to ban certain products that could also introduce Ozone Depleting chemicals into the atmosphere. See www.worldbank.org/montrealprotocol.

The timescale set for the cessation of production of these chemicals was effectively the end of 1993 in the developed world and 2010 in developing countries.

What is the Kyoto Protocol 
Following in the footsteps of the Montreal Protocol the Kyoto Protocol was agreed on the 10 December 1997 and committed the parties to specific reductions in the release of Global Warming Gases. The most significant for the fire protection industry being Carbon Dioxide and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

What are CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon)
They are ozone depleting substances used in fire extinguishant systems, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment including chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, collectively referred to as CFCs. This group of chemicals has been demonstrated to be harmful to the environment, specifically the stratospheric ozone layer.

Why does Halon need replacing
As a CFC based gas, Halon 1301 and 1211 are ozone depleting agents. Their release to atmosphere during manufacture, decanting to application cylinders and use or misuse in service has contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer. They also have a long atmospheric life.

When does it need replacing
The new EC Regulation 2037/2000 came into force on 1 October 2000 and states:-

New halons cannot be used for refilling existing systems.

Recovered, recycled or reclaimed halon 1301 / 1211 can only be used in existing systems until 31st December 2002. After this date no refilling can take place.

Mandatory decommissioning of fire extinguishing systems with halons must be completed before 31st December 2003.

What will happen to the removed Halon 1301
The regulations will make it compulsory to safely dispose of any Halon recovered. This will include banking for organisations who are exempt and have "Critical Uses" which will continue.

Who will be exempt
Owners and users of halon with "Critical Uses" may be able to claim exemption if broadly speaking the application is within the aircraft industry, military / armed forces, petrochemical industry and some marine applications. Use that can claim to be connected with national security.

Is there a "Drop In" replacement
No, not directly but there are alternatives and one in particular is very similar in its installation and operation. It may also be possible to reuse some or all of your existing mechanical pipework installation.

What is the nearest alternative
The nearest alternative replacement extinguishing agent is FM200®

Should I look at other alternatives
Yes, you should evaluate all the available alternatives including whether you need a replacement at all.

What will it cost to replace
This will depend upon many factors - primarily the size of the installation but other factors will have a significant effect on the cost of replacement. Some of these you will already have the answer to - Can the installation take place in normal working hours, is the existing space occupied by the Halon equipment sufficient accommodate the new equipment, Finally - Does the supplier offer a cost effective service that produces value for money over the life of the system. Don't be taken in by cheaper quotes that have hidden cost of ownership clauses - yes even today there are companies still selling in this manner.
For a very approximate guide to the costs - please fill in our price request form.

Alternatives to halon 1301, halon 2402, halon 1211
 
- FM200 HFC-227ea
- HFC-23
- Inert gases
- Carbon Dioxide
- Water based systems
- AFFF
- PFC 410
- NAF SIII
- FE-36
- FE-25
- FE 241
- Foam
- Dry powder

FM200 HFC-227ea (CF3CHFCF3, FM200®) *
FM200® Approved by all the leading standard and certification authorities is a clean, safe, zero ozone-depleting and proven extinguishing gas. When designed and installed correctly it can meet the replacement criteria for existing halon 1301 systems.

A clean agent
FM200® will extinguish fires at low concentration levels without residue which would be damaging to the equipment it protects.

Works quickly
Correctly designed detection and suppression systems that are controlled by sensitive intelligent detection systems will recognise and suppress a fire well before significant damage results. FM200® systems are designed to discharge the agent and achieve the minimum design concentration within 10 seconds. This quick discharge can prevent serious loss occurring.

A very effective fire extinguishant
FM200® systems are highly suitable for Computer & telecommunication areas Power generation Gas turbines Oil industry installations Marine installations

Safe for use in normally occupied areas
People are able to breathe FM200® at extinguishing concentrations without fear of a health complications or risks.

Very low environmental impact
With an ODP of zero (because chlorine and bromine are not present) the next concern is Global warming. FM200® has near zero emissions to contribute to global warming. The gas itself can be recycled and associated hardware reused making their overall impact to the environment - low.

Harmless for sensitive equipment
Leaving no residue after discharge means no clearing up. Causing only a gentle reduction in temperature with the protected space.

Occupies similar space to Halon 1301
Storage space required for cylinders is similar to Halon

Available to open system suppliers
Although the manufacturer of the gas itself has closely controlled the approved component manufacturers, the agent is freely available within the industry to those who have demonstrated a commitment in terms of training and support service.

FM200® Is manufactured by Great Lakes Chemical Corp., in the United States of America. They have a limited number of approved suppliers. These suppliers are the only sources available to the fire protection industry installation and system companies

Great Lakes Chemical Corp. list the following organisations

Chemetron Fire systems

Cerberus and Cerberus Pyrotronics

Kidde Fire Systems and Kidde International and of course Fenwall are also owned by the same organisation

Fike Protection Systems

Hygood (now owned by Macron Safety Systems (UK) Limited ( A Tyco company)

* Registered Trade Mark of Great Lakes Chemical Corporation

HFC-23™
HFC-23 is produced the DuPont chemical company. It is a gaseous extinguishant agent that is clean, safe, zero ozone-depleting, which leaves behind no residue to damage sensitive electronic equipment. It works at temperatures as low as -40ºC, and is also very suitable for applications which have high compartments.

Typical applications would be:-

High ceiling areas within industrial or storage accommodation

Oil production platforms

Gas turbine enclosures

Low temperature applications

Gas / Oil processing equipment

Inert Gases
Extinguishing agents using Nitrogen, Argon and Carbon Dioxide.

Health concern in relation to use of these types of agents is based upon the effect of having a reduced oxygen content within the protected space and that effect upon any occupants.

There is an increasing acceptance that inert gases can be used in extinguishing concentrations without excessive risk to humans. However, this does not apply to carbon dioxide which is both toxic and a asphyxiant. Carbon Dioxide systems must be locked off whenever people are present in the protected room.

CO2 Carbon Dioxide
An extremely effective extinguishing gas that has been used for many years. It is best suited to more specialist applications such as:

Electrical switchgear enclosures

Low and High Voltage Transformer rooms

Marine applications

Industrial process applications include:

Paint spray cubicles

Flammable liquid storage areas

Process machinery

Generators and turbine protection

CO2 is not generally considered to be an alternative to Halon 1301 and is not suited to normally occupied spaces. Although it is immediately recognised as a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming, the supply used in fire protection systems is generally a by product of another process and very little reaches the atmosphere.

Water based systems
Water based systems fall into two categories: Conventional sprinklers which are outside the scope of this site and new generation Fine Water Mist systems. The difference between the two in very general terms is the droplet size.

Sprinklers produce droplet sizes of around 1 mm compared to water mist systems at 0.1 - 0.01 mm as the pressure rises. There are many different systems available to deliver the water mist to the risk area or equipment and their use on electrical equipment is not necessarily inappropriate.

Other Extinguishants you may have heard about.

AFFF
Aqueous Film Forming Foam is used extensively in portable fire extinguishers but is not a suitable halon replacement.

PFC410
FC3110 Perfluorocarbon Manufactured By 3M Company. Very similar to halon in concentration and discharge terms. Zero ODP, long atmospheric life and high GWP.

NAF SIII
A HCFC Blend Manufactured by North American Fire Guardian. An Extinguishing gas available as a transition substance - between Halon and the alternatives. No systems currently being installed. It had low ODP (compared to halon 1301) but needed higher concentration to extinguish fires.

FE-36™
HFC-236fa Hexafluoropropane. Manufactured by DuPont as a Halon 1211 replacement in portable fire extinguishers. Portable extinguishers requiring a streaming extinguishant gas.

FE-25™

HFC-125 Manufactured by DuPont.

FE-241™

HCFC-124 Manufactured by DuPont.

Foam

High expansion foam has been suggested as an alternative to Halon however the take up has been very low. It is a very effective means of fire extinguishing but requires some clean up.

Powder

Dry power systems are very suitable for flammable liquid / chemical storage areas but are not considered as halon replacements.

If you would like a budget price for the installation of a halon substitute, please complete the price request form.



halon 1301, halon 2402, halon 1211: decommissioning Halon systems
 
The following points should be addressed in the Risk Assessments and Method Statement provided by any contractor engaged to decommission an existing halon system.

Depending upon the number of days the works are expected to take - CDM (Constructions Design Management) Regulations may need to be employed. You will need to appoint a Principle Contractor, a Planning Supervisor and don't forget to file an F10 with the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) at you local office.

Risks Associated with Decommissioning and therefore Assessments must be carried out.

Risks associated with pressurised cylinders 

Risks associated with manual handling of heavy objects 

Risks associated with halon exposure 



The method statement should cover the following topics (Procedures detailed in the method statement must be cross checked with that detailed by the manufacturer's Owner's, Service, Operation, and Maintenance manuals).

Correct security of cylinders before work commences 

Disconnection of Actuation Devices 

Disconnection of pipework / manifolds and the making safe by use of Protective Caps (Anti-Recoil Devices) 

Protecting, securing and packing cylinders for transport 

Adequate receiving facilities for transported cylinders 

Security of cylinders in installed location: 
Before any works are carried out, ensure that all cylinders are securely attached to a solid surface such as a wall or the floor with the factory supplied retaining brackets.

Disconnect Actuation Circuits / Devices: 
Isolate as appropriate to the system actuation device and then disconnect. This will vary with the manufacturer of the equipment. The method statement should detail these actions in depth.

Disconnect Discharge Piping: 
The pipework may be connected directly or multiple cylinders may have manifold arrangements. Take great care not to impose strain on the valve itself - this could lead to a leak of halon.

Fit transport Plugs: 
These should prevent recoil in the event that the valve operates after pipework is disconnected. Most cylinders are charged to 25 bar (360 psi) if the valve operated without the protection cap the cylinder could become a projectile and could easily injure or kill somebody.

Protecting, securing and packing cylinders for transport: 
The cylinders should be adequately protected for transport and secured during transit. The contractor may need to be registered to carry this equipment as Waste.

Finally: 
Make sure that if there is a detection system associated with the old halon system - It works. Notify the responsible person that the facility is no longer protected with an extinguishant. This should include the removal of any signage, manual release points and status units.
 
 
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