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Frequently Asked Questions About Halon

Posted on: February 18, 2011

If you’ve ever spent any time looking for a fire suppression system for your building, you’ve probably heard about Halon, which is often touted as being the most effective fire suppression system in the world. But what is Halon? Is it safe for people? Why isn’t it more commonly used? At Guardian Fire Protection Services, we want to make sure you have the full story about all of your fire suppression systems so you can be confident in the type of system you want to install.

What is Halon?

Halon is the most effective form of fire suppression yet developed. While most fire suppression systems work by eliminating either one part of a fire (the ignition source, the fuel or the oxygen), Halon goes further to break the chain reaction of a fire, stopping the fuel, ignition and oxygen by chemically reacting with them. Both Halon 1211 (a liquid) and Halon 1301 (a gas) leave no residue and are safe for brief human exposure (but not long term – if Halon is flowing, get out of there!). One of the biggest benefits of Halon fire suppression systems is that the Halon only destroys fires – not the rest of your office. This is perfect if you have a room with lots of servers or computers, because the last thing you want is for a water-based fire sprinkler system to kick on and do as much damage as the fire itself!

Is Halon Bad for the Environment?

Unfortunately, yes. Halon is a potent CFC, meaning it depletes the ozone layer when it is released. But don’t worry – this doesn’t mean it’s illegal to use! While the production of new Halon was outlawed in 1994 under the Clean Air Act, no way to safely dispose of the existing supplies of the extinguishant has yet been developed, meaning that the use of recycled Halon fire suppression systems and Halon fire extinguishers is still accepted (and encouraged!). In fact, the FAA requires the use of Halon on all commercial airlines.

Where is Halon Most Commonly Used?

Because Halon is such an unparalleled fire extinguishing material, and because it is electrically non-conductive, it is commonly found in vital areas of military applications, including ships, aircraft and tanks. It is also found in computer and communications rooms in the electronics industry and, as mentioned above, on all commercial aircraft. Some people also use Halon fire extinguishers for personal use, in their homes, cars, boats, RVs, etc.

How Do You Maintain a Halon Fire Extinguisher?

Halon fire extinguishers are actually much easier to own than conventional dry chemical fire extinguishers, requiring less yearly maintenance. Since Halon 1211 is a liquid, it is not subject to the “caking” that often occurs after a while with dry chemical fire extinguishers. You should have your Halon fire extinguisher inspected yearly. During a Halon fire extinguisher inspection, the pressure gauge will be checked to ensure adequate pressure, the nozzle will be checked to make sure there are no obstructions and the cylinder will be weighed to make sure it meets the manufacturer’s weight requirements. Halon fire extinguishers require the same six year maintenance and 12 year hydro test that other fire extinguishers require.

If you have any questions about Halon fire extinguisher for fire suppression system suppression and testing, or if you want to know more about Halon in general, call Guardian Fire Protection Services today!

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