Environmentally Friendly Fire Extinguishers
What are clean agent extinguishers?
Clean agent fire extinguishers are environmentally environmentally-friendly Halon replacements. Clean agent extinguishers fight fires using substances that:
• Don’t harm the environment
• Don’t deplete the ozone layer
• Are non-corrosive
• Don’t leave messy or harmful residue.
You can see why they’re a sensible option if you’re looking to protect sensitive electrical or mechanical equipment.
As automatic fire extinguishers
Automatic fire extinguishers are often found in unmanned engine rooms, server rooms, machine rooms, clean rooms, and the like. People protecting these areas often opt for a clean agent fire extinguisher because they won’t leave any corrosive residue that can damage equipment.
Should you use a Halon fire extinguisher?
They short answer is probably not.
Halon was first used pre-1900, in the form of Halon 104. The by-products of combustion, however, were found to be lethal and actually caused a number of deaths.
Safer alternatives were found in 1947, in the form of Halon 1211 and Halon 1301. These agents were non-toxic, didn’t damage live electrical equipment and left no residue. This made them a popular choice for businesses with sensitive electrical equipment.
However, this type of Halon was found to deplete the ozone layer, so it’s production ceased and it was banned in the 1990s.
On the most part it is now illegal to use these extinguishers, although there are some exceptions – aircrafts, for instance can carry them. Since the production of Halon has ceased, any Halon currently used is recycled Halon 1211.
You will sometimes see clean agent extinguishers referred to as Halon replacements – these are okay to use.
FE-36 fire extinguishers
Class A: Ordinary combustibles – wood, paper, cloth, rubber and plastics
Class B: Flammable liquids – oil, petrol, greases, oil-based paints
FE-fire extinguishers have replaced Halon 1211 as the extinguisher of choice of where the agent must be:
• Electrically non-conductive
• Extremely low in toxicity
• Exceptionally effective
The extinguisher works by spray liquid and gas into a fire to interrupt the combustion process. The gas then evaporates, leaving no residue that could damage the environment or equipment.
FE-36 vs. CO2 Fire Extinguishers
You’re probably wondering why you’d bother with an FE-36 fire extinguisher when you could use a CO2 one instead.
Firstly, CO2 fire extinguishers are unsuitable if you have to ‘flood’ a room. This is where you have to flood an entire closed area with enough agent to fight a fire. If you use too high a volume of CO2, it will be harmful to anyone in the vicinity.
FE-36 extinguishers also lower your risk of receiving a thermal shock – something that occurs when material cannot cope with a dramatic temperature drop.