The ban on Halon fire extinguishers was implemented following the Montreal Protocol of 1987 and subsequent extension at Kyoto a decade later. The details are in EC Regulation 3093/94 and EC 2037/2000 and the UK Hazardous Waste regulations 2005
Exceptions to the Rule
The EU ban on the use of Halon in fire extinguishers actually came into force in October 2000 and was implemented in the UK in 2003, as a result of scientific research linking Halon and other CFC’s to Ozone depletion. The ban in practice is not total.
Existing owners and users of Halon 1211 portable fire extinguishers may be able to claim exemption to the EU ban for certain “Critical Uses”.
Broadly speaking this includes limited applications within the aircraft industry, military / armed forces, petrochemical industry and some specific marine applications. Refilling of existing Halon systems covered by these exemptions should also be from recycled Halon stocks. Halon 1301 is the version preferred in fixed fire suppression systems and its current use is also tightly controlled although it is installed in the Channel Tunnel. The exemption can also extend to applications that can be justified on the basis of National security.
Not only is it illegal to own a Halon fire extinguisher not covered by these exemptions it is also illegal to simply dump them or discharge the contents. Fire and Safety Centre can arrange collection and safe disposal (please note this is a chargeable service and is priced per kg) or you can contact your Local Council Waste Management department for advice.
Older Halon extinguishers are normally colour coded British Racing Green so are easy to spot but variants on this colour are out there. The military use dark bottle green as you might expect and yellow and gold also turn up. They are now also supplied red with a green colour flash. You are most likely to come across a Green Halon fire extinguisher in an Aircraft where they are still permitted in the absence of an approved replacement.
Because of the strict regulations governing the storage and use of Halon it is not possible for Fire and Safety Centre to stock or sell this type of fire extinguisher. We offer two alternatives. For general portable use CO2 extinguishers provide the same protection for sensitive electronics and valuables. In fixed applications for example in boats, switch rooms, plant and machinery we offer FE-36 automatic fire extinguishers which is a more environmentally safe, non corrosive and non conductive gas based system.