Halon Fire Extinguishers - Are You Staying within the Law?

From December 2003, it became illegal to have a Halon fire extinguisher fitted to your boat.

But every month Safety Marine receives enquiries from customers who tell us that they still have an old Halon-type automatic fire extinguisher in their engine bay, which they are thinking of replacing.

Be aware that your insurer could refuse to cover a damage claim if you use a Halon fire extinguisher. Even if the fire is successfully put out, your insurance could be invalidated because the vessel failed to 'stay within the law'.

Why should Halon be History?

The green coloured fire extinguishers containing Halon 1211 were popular because they could be used on any type of fire, and particularly where electrical equipment was present, as Halon 1211 did not damage high tech equipment. Invented by ICI, it was known in the UK as BCF after its chemical name.

Unfortunately, it was later discovered that Halon used in fire fighting equipment also had the highest ozone-depleting capacity of any chemicals in common use - which is very ironic as they were colour-coded green!

When 150 countries worldwide signed up to the Montreal protocol to control the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, Halon was one of the first substances to be banned in 1993.

From 31 December 2002, it became illegal to recharge a Halon fire extinguishing system, and all Halon fire extinguishers had to be decommissioned by 31 December 2003.

How to Dispose of Halon Fire Extinguishers?

If you still have a Halon fire extinguisher, it must be correctly decommissioned and disposed of immediately!

Your local civic amenities department should be able accept Halon extinguishers for disposal, but you should ring your local council to check which site will accept them. It is strictly illegal to simply dump a Halon fire extinguisher at the local tip or household recycling depot, and it is also illegal to discharge them into the atmosphere.

You could also take any existing Halon fire extinguishers to an authorised commercial disposal agent with the proper resources to deal with their disposal. You can find a list on the Halon Users National Consortium (HUNC) website, www.hunc.org

Information Courtesy of: www.fireextinguisherguide.co.uk

For independent technical advice about marine fire fighting systems, call the Safety Marine technical team on 02380 226300 or email advice@safety-marine.co.uk


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