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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Thursday, 15 November 2007 21:39

Protection without Halon - What are the Alternatives?

Written by  Yvonne M. Keafer, P.E., A.R.M.

Introduction Halon 1301 has been the preferred means of fire protection in computer and electronic data processing areas since the 1960s. However, its long-term future is in question because of its classification as a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)'identified as a contributor to depletion of the earth's stratospheric ozone layer, the planet's shield from ultraviolet radiation. Consequently, the Montreal Protocol of 1987 and subsequent Copenhagen amendments banned the production of additional Halon 1301 (except in less developed countries and for some 'exceptional use' exemptions) beginning in 1994. Thus, the challenge for today's risk managers and fire protection professionals is to identify the best halon protection substitute for each area requiring protection. The recommended method of identifying the best alternative is to employ an 'engineered approach' based on an individual case analysis. This evaluation of alternatives is most effectively performed by involving qualified consultants early in the decision-making process. The key characteristic sought by the risk