Home' Facility Perspectives : Vol 10 No 2 Contents FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 10 NUMBER 2
SAFETY + RISK MANAGEMENT |
Both types of gaseous extinguishing
agents have their own advantages and
disadvantages. This means that choosing
the most suitable fire-extinguishing agent
for a specific application will depend on a
range of factors, including their impact on
One environmental consideration that
building owners and those responsible for
maintaining gaseous suppression systems
should take into account when making a
decision is whether the extinguishing agent
used in their system is scheduled under the
Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse
Gas Management Act 1989 (the Ozone Act)
and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic
Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations
1995 (the Regulations).
Scheduled extinguishing agents are
those listed in the Ozone Act, and
include those synthetic gases that deplete
stratospheric ozone – ozone-depleting
substances (ODS); and agents that
contribute to global warming – synthetic
greenhouse gases (SGG). To minimise
their environmental impact, the discharge
of scheduled extinguishing agents for
anything other than putting out a fire is
strictly controlled. It is very important that
all facility owners understand the potential
environmental impacts of ODS and SGG if
released into the atmosphere.
So, which gaseous fire-extinguishing
agents are classified as scheduled
In the commercial building sector, the most
common scheduled extinguishing agent in
use is known by the trade names FM-200®
and FE-227TM – or NAF S-III and NAF P-III,
which are still present in some older systems.
Then there are Halon agents (Halon 1301 –
used in fixed systems; and Halon 1211 or BCF
– used in portable extinguishers), which are not
permitted for anything but approved ‘essential
use’ – they are typically restricted to aviation
and military applications. Halon systems and
BCF portable extinguishers must no longer
be installed or used in building/commercial
premises. If you are aware of a Halon system
installed in your facility (easily identified by
its yellow cylinders), you should arrange for
the system to be decommissioned and the
cylinders sent to the National Halon Bank for
disposal (call 1800 658 084).
How can you identify a gaseous fire
Rooms protected by gaseous fire
suppression systems typically have warning
signs installed on or above doorways into the
room, and close to other items of equipment
that form part of the system. It is important
that building owners, facilities managers
and building occupants know whether
any gaseous fire suppression systems are
installed in their building or facility, so as
to minimise the risk of discharges due to
human error, or equipment malfunction
attributed to lack of adequate maintenance
or understanding of the system.
Extinguishing agents are stored in cylinders
under very high pressure, and can pose a
significant safety risk due to the amount
of stored energy contained within them.
For these reasons, it is very important
that only competent, trained and, in the
case of scheduled extinguishing agents,
licensed technicians (with the appropriate
Extinguishing Agent Handling Licence
(EAHL)), be allowed to install and maintain
gaseous fire suppression systems.
If you work in a room protected by a
gaseous fire suppression system, it is important
that you understand how the system works.
Some of the controls installed as part of
the system are to allow it to be discharged
manually in an emergency.
Obviously, these controls should only be
operated in response to a fire. If you are not
sure what a control does, then don’t touch it.
It is also important to remember that most
of these systems will operate automatically if
fire or smoke is detected, so any activity that
may cause the detection system to go into
alarm (such as soldering, or other activities
that create clouds of dust or smoke) must
not occur unless the gaseous fire suppression
system has been isolated.
If you need training on how the gaseous
fire suppression system installed in your
facility works, speak with your supervisor
or contact the fire service provider that
maintains your system.
The Fire Protection Industry (ODS &
The Fire Protection Industry (ODS & SGG)
Board, appointed by the federal Minister for
the Environment, administers the fire
protection division of the Regulations on
behalf of the Australian Government. The
Board exercises a range of powers and
functions listed in sub-regulation 311(2) in all
states and territories in Australia. The Board
provides ongoing information to the fire
protection industry and the general public on
its activities and purpose. This improves the
awareness and understanding of scheduled
extinguishing agents, the legislative
requirements surrounding them, and the
need to reduce their use and the potential
risk for accidental emissions.
This is an excerpt from a longer article.
Visit www.fpaa.com.au/ozone.aspx to
read the full article.
For further information about fire safety
in your facility, please contact Julia
Nicolas, Communication and Compliance
Coordinator at Fire Protection Association
Australia: firstname.lastname@example.org or
03 8892 3131. To download a copy of the
Good Practice Guide and the factsheet,
go to www.fpaa.com.au/ozone.
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