Halon fire extinguisher contains an extinguishing agent called Halon. Halon is a liquefied, compressed gas that stops the spread of fire by chemically disrupting combustion and does not leave a residue upon evaporation.
Types of Halon fire extinguisher
- Halon 1211 is used only in portable extinguishers and is a streaming agent. A halon fire extinguisher has a limited range, usually 4 to 6 feet.
- Halon 1301 is used only in fixed extinguisher installations and is a total flooding agent. This type of extinguisher is commonly found in computer server rooms and clean rooms.
Both Halon 1211 (a liquid streaming agent) and Halon 1301 (a gaseous flooding agent) leave no residue after use after use. Halon is rated for class “B” (flammable liquids) and “C” (electrical fires), but it is also effective on class “A” (common combustibles) fires. Halon 1211 and Halon 1301 are low-toxicity, chemically stable compounds that, as long as they remain contained in cylinders, are easily recyclable.
How the Halon fire extinguisher works
The Halon fire extinguisher stops the spread of fire by chemically disrupting combustion.
Health effect of Halon
Health effects reported in some quarters associated with Halon extinguishers includes: Asphyxiation, frostbite, burns to the skin, as well as skin and eye irritation. Inhaling halon compounds in high concentrations can cause central nervous system disorders including dizziness, unconsciousness and tingling in the arms and legs.
Exposure to halon compounds may also cause cardiac sensitization resulting in irregular heartbeats and even heart attacks (in a severe circumstances). This is because when halon is used on fires, it produces such decomposition byproducts as hydrogen chloride, hydrogen bromide and traces of free halogens.
Advantages of Halon fire extinguisher
- Halon does not displace the air out of the area where it is dispensed.
- It can work in low concentration. Even for the toughest fires, less than an 8% concentration of Halon by volume is required, leaving plenty of air to use in the evacuation process.
- It does not pose danger of “cold shocking” avionics or other sensitive electrical equipment.
Limitation of Halon fire extinguisher
Under the European Council Regulation 2037/2000, Halon portable fire extinguishers are no longer permitted for use in the European Union due to their ozone-depleting substances. Exceptions include use in civil aircraft, the armed forces and the emergency services.
Also, there is no cost-effective means of safely and effectively disposing of the Halon that has already been produced, therefore recycling and reusing the existing supply intelligently and responsibly to protect lives and property is the best solution.
Due to the regulations governing the use of halon extinguishers, CO2 extinguisher tends to be the closest Halon replacement since it offers similar protection.
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