Anyone involved in operating a building with sensitive equipment, or familiar with special hazards fire protection, is likely to have encountered Halon 1301. Halon 1301 is a clean agent used for fire suppression in spaces where water, smoke and other potentially destructive elements might cause irreparable harm or loss. As a clean agent fire protection solution, Halon has proven particularly effective against fires caused by flammable liquids (Class B) and energized electrical equipment (Class C). In the event of an electrical fire for example, the non-conductive, non-corrosive discharged solution will extinguish the fire without leaving any residue or damage to the space or equipment.
Putting the Halon Rumors to Rest
Halon 1301 is one of the most effective clean agents used in fire protection. Despite the successful track record however, Halon and other special hazards carry some common misconceptions that are often perpetuated by concerned occupants. Some may argue that Halon is toxic and can steal oxygen from your lungs or pull out all the oxygen from a room, but these unsubstantiated claims are false. Halon 1301 is safe to use in occupied areas and allows people and companies to continue business as usual within a space even after the agent has discharged.
What you should know about Halon 1301
Its overall effectiveness made Halon fire suppression a widely-adopted solution for protecting data centers, high-voltage control rooms and other mission critical spaces. It is important to know however, that it is now illegal to manufacture Halon 1301 in the United States. In the early 1980s it was discovered that chemicals within the chemical agent – specifically chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs - pose a danger to our atmosphere. Halon, being in that class of compounds, was added to the Montreal protocol and phased out of production in 1994. And although existing Halon systems are allowed to stay in place, new systems are no longer allowed to be designed and installed. Consequently, all Halon obtained today was manufactured before the production ban and is actually recycled and recovered using a “Gas Banking” facility. As a result the cost of refilling Halon is continuously on the rise and is often quite expensive.
With the limited supply of existing Halon, and the high costs associated with refilling a tank that has been put into action, a proactive approach to replacement is recommended. There are many clean agents available today that can be substituted for Halon replacements. It is also possible to maintain and reuse most of an existing piping network built for discharging Halon in the past.
Clean agents are necessary in critical areas where downtime and equipment damage are out of the question. Clean agent fire suppression systems being installed today, and the associated clean agents themselves, are environmentally sound and are readily available for installation by authorized installers. If you have an existing Halon 1301 fire suppression system and are considering an environmentally friendly alternative, or have a critical space that is currently not protected there is a solution that fits your specific needs.
Kevin Smith, Special Hazards Service Account Manager
J.C. Cannistraro, LLC