Jurisdictions across North America and globally produced protocols have been phasing out Halons, beginning in 1993 and accelerating over the following decades. Although they are effective in stopping the chemical reactions that spread fires, Halons are difficult to dispose of and harmful to the environment, being that they contribute to ozone depletion in the right concentrations.
Given the ubiquity of the chemicals in firefighting equipment, Halon bans have typically been staggered, with end dates provided for usage and refills.
This creates curious loopholes. In Ontario, for instance, it is still legal to discharge Halons if you must fight a fire but the ability to refill Halon based equipment ended on December 31, 2015. An extinguisher used today might not be replaceable tomorrow. At the end of the lifecycle of your fire extinguishers, suppression systems, and other equipment you MUST have a Halon alternative prepared or you will be in violation of fire code.
The difficulty this presents to facility architects and engineers is obvious. When planning the fire suppression component of large site upgrades a patchwork of regulatory requirements must be considered alongside the usual size, layout, and cost constraints. Even in the absence of a redevelopment, front line plant and data centre managers are being tasked with
maintaining equipment that is obsolete.
There are two basic steps that can be undertaken immediately to avoid the Halon danger:
Find out what you have now: Are any of your extinguishers or larger fire suppression units still using Halons? Put in simple terms, the time to replace them was yesterday. Have your facilities managers and maintenance undertake an audit.
Dispose of any remaining Halon: Because of the dangers of Halon, it must be disposed of by certified professionals. But, if you partner with the right company, you can actually sell your old Halon for a profit to offset the cost of a replacement system.
Research the alternatives: Fortunately, science has caught up with the Halon problem and a variety of safe and reliable alternatives are now available. Take a look at our guidebook available on the sidebar to see what options are available.
The Kidde ADS Novac system, for instance, is “drop-in ready" meaning it can be placed in your facility with a minimal space and labour footprint. Modern systems like this not only eliminate the Halon problem but save on piping and cylinders while propelling fire suppressant further and faster.
If you would like help in determining the next fire suppression steps for your data centre, warehouse, or manufacturing facility feel free to download our free suppression system guide or reach out to speak with one of our experts. At Control Fire Systems we provide end to end support for commercial enterprises when it comes to fire safety; we can help not only with the conception and installation of a new system but also the ongoing inspections, maintenance, and refills in subsequent years.