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Halon Decommissioning – What You Need to Know

Posted on: October 1, 2012

If you use a Halon fire suppression system to protect your building from fire, you probably know that Halon has been identified as a potent ozone depleter and no new Halon supplies can be produced. And while it’s still legal to operate Halon fire suppression systems, many business owners are choosing to decommission their systems in favor of more environmentally options such as FM-200.

There are two main steps to the Halon decommissioning process: first, removing the actual equipment from your building, and then reclaiming the extinguishing gas to be used in existing systems.

Since Halonis so destructive, it is imperative that it is properly handled, stored and transported. As a result, it’s important that Halon decommissioning be performed only by properly trained fire protection personnel. If the cylinder is handled improperly and the pressure is not released properly, it can shoot off like a projectile, potentially causing serious injury or death. The FSSA (Fire Suppression Systems Association) lays out specific guidelines related to Halon decommissioning:

  • Halon decommissioning should only be performed by a qualified and experienced professional
  • Decommissioning personnel should be thoroughly trained in safe handling procedures as well as proper procedures related to disabling, removing, transporting, shipping, and emptying Halon cylinders.
  • Halon decommissioning must be performed in accordance with procedures specified in manufacturer’s Owner’s, Service,Operation and Maintenance manuals.
  • Actuation devices must be disabled, and protective caps and anti-recoil devices must be used before cylinder brackets can be removed and cylinders disconnected from system piping.

Potential Risks Involved with Halon Decommissioning

While all Halon systems have their own unique differences, they share the same inherent risks, which must be considered during Halon decommissioning:

Risks associated with pressurized cylinders

Since Halon is stored under pressure, any damage to or improper handling of the cylinder, including accidental activation of the discharge mechanism, can cause the cylinder to become a projectile,which can result in serious injury or death to workers or bystanders in the vicinity. Common causes of accidental Halon discharge include:

  • Accidental automatic firing at the releasing panel/remote
  • Accidental manual activation at the cylinder/remote
  • Accidental operation of the cylinder valve
  • Damage to the discharge head/neck
  • High cylinder temperature above the working pressure

Risks associated with heavy objects

A fully charged Halon cylinder can weigh as much as 1,500 lbs. As a result, moving the cylinders can be complicated. Accidental dropping or improper lifting and moving of the cylinder can cause injury to personnel handling the equipment or and lead to accidental release of cylinder pressure.

Risks associated with Halon exposure

One of the most serious risks associated with Halon decommissioning is exposure to the Halon gas itself. Halon exposure can cause dizziness and anesthesia as well as cardiac sensitization, which can lead to irregular heart beat and, in severe cases, a heart attack. At high enough concentrations, Halon exposure can be fatal.

If you want to replace your old Halon system with a more environmentally friendly one, such as FM-200, call Guardian Fire Protection today!

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