Halon fire suppression systems are commonly used to protect valuable electronics, oil and gas production facilities, military systems and other critical operations where water from a fire sprinkler would do more harm than good. Unfortunately, Halon has been identified as a potent ozone depleter, and production of new supplies of Halon has been banned. While you’re not required to remove Halon systems from your building if you use them, more and more businesses owners are having their fire suppression systems replaced with more environmentally friendly options. The process of Halon system removal is called “decommissioning,” and it is a fairly complex process involving the removal of the actual equipment and then reclaiming the actual Halon agent.
Since Halon needs to be carefully handled, stored, transported and eventually reused, the process of decommissioning should only be handled by professionals. In addition, it’s extremely important that no Halon gas leaks out into the air, for a couple of reasons. First, as we mentioned, the gas can do a lot of damage to the ozone layer. Second, and most dangerous, is the fact that Halon supplies are stored under pressure. If a Halon cylinder is damaged during the decommissioning process, it can turn into a projectile, causing serious damage, injury, or death to anyone or anything around it. The FSSA (Fire Suppression Systems Association) lays out specific guidelines related to Halon decommissioning:
Halon systems have been manufactured for over 20 years, in many different placed and by many different companies. While all Halon systems have their own unique differences, they all share the same inherent risks, which should be considered during the process of Halon decommissioning:
Since Halon is stored under pressure, any damage to or improper handling of the cylinder, including accidental activation of the discharge mechanism, can cause it to become a projectile, which can lead to serious injury or death to workers or bystanders. Common causes of accidental Halon discharge include:
A fully charged Halon cylinder can weigh as much as 1,500 lbs. As a result, moving the cylinders can be complicated. Accidentally dropping or improperly lifting the cylinder can cause injury to personnel handling the equipment or accidental release of cylinder pressure.
One of the most serious risks associated with Halon decommissioning is the risk associated with exposure to the chemical 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.
Halon decommissioning can be complex, but it’s no problem for the fire protection professionals at Kauffman Co.! If you want to decommission your old Halon system and install FM-200 in Houston, call today!
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