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  Phase out of Halon

IMO has prohibited new Halon installations from 1994, but accepts existing Halon systems installed prior to that date. Phase out of Halon is consequently an issue for each Flag State, with the phase out for EU flagged ships as the most notable programme.

While the majority of Flag States accept Halon to be used as fire extinguishing system onboard their vessel, EU (including NOR / NIS vessels) has banned use of this agent from end of 2003. A new approved fire extinguishing system should then be installed (except for areas not required to be protected) whereas the Halon containers should be transported to a deposit. 

The following international and national regulations regarding the phasing out and replacing of Halons (as fire extinguishing mediums) have been identified:

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
The Montreal Protocol of 1987 (with amendments) is an international treaty for the protection of the ozone layer. The means used are to restrict and eventually prohibit the production of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and control distribution of ODS. All ODS produced are, in this context, considered lost to atmosphere, hence the protocol does not discuss collection and controlled destruction of ODS.

European Community Regulations
The purpose of these Regulations is to agree on how the intention of the
Montreal Protocol can be met for the geographical area of the parties assigned as members of the European Community (EC). This is done by a set of EC Regulations concerning production, distribution, use and eventually decommissioning and destruction of OSD in order to meet the targets set by the EC. EC Regulation No.093/94 gave detailed means for controlling and phasing out the different ODS. However, this is replaced by EC Regulation No. 2037/2000, which was signed by the concerned parties on 29.06.2000 and entered into force on 1.10.2000. The Regulation in question will also cover the EEA area (Norway, Iceland, etc.).

Existing Halon fire extinguishing systems may be used and re-filled/topped up with re-cycled Halon until 31.12.2002. After this date any re-filling or use of Halon as a fire-extinguishing medium will be prohibited. By 31.12.2003, fire protection systems and fire extinguishers containing Halons shall have been decommissioned and Halons shall have been recovered as regulated by EC Regulation No. 2037/2000.

Gielle interprets that this means that Halons shall not be utilised as fire extinguishing mediums after 31.12.2002 and as a consequence, alternative fire extinguishing systems and extinguishers shall be available on board prior to this date. This Paper does not address the implementation of the EU directive into national legislation. This may delay the process, but owners should not rely on that. The directive should not have an effect on non-EU flagged vessels entering EU ports.

National Directives
Countries, which have signed the Montreal Protocol (more than 160 countries), may in addition have developed their own national regulations. Please check with the Flag State in question.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 
The IMO under UN is the major organisation taking care of regulations applicable for ships and floating units in international trade or operation. Taking into account the Montreal Protocol and concern for environmental protection, IMO discussed the measures that may be considered practical for international trade at sea.

New installations of fixed fire extinguishing systems and portable fire extinguishers using Halon were prohibited from 1.1.1994 on board all ships and floating units. IMO considers that the shore-based regulations on Halons will govern the phasing out of existing installations, as the availability of Halons decreases. IMO has thus not defined any target date for the phasing out of Halons.

Classification Societies
The scope of work, when acting on behalf of Flag Administrations, is to see that the intention of IMO and possible additional regulations enforced by the Flag Administrations are put into effect. Hence, the major classification societies and the International Association for Classification Societies (IACS) will follow IMO and have subsequently enforced that new installations of halogenated hydrocarbon systems were prohibited on all new ships and floating units from 1.1.1994.

Use of Halon on Board Ships and Floating Units (MOUs) 
For vessels flying the flag of Administrations that have ratified IMO regulations  The installation of new fixed fire extinguishing systems and portable fire extinguishers with Halon on board ships and floating units is prohibited. A phase out scheme for existing installations has not been established. 

For vessels flying the flag of countries assigned as member states in EC The Administrations of these countries may enforce EC regulation No. 2037/2000, which allows use and re-filling of Halon until 31.12.2002 and requires decommissioning of fire extinguishing systems with Halon by 31.12.2003.

Commercial ships are in general to comply with SOLAS Ch. II-2 and Flag State requirements. The Flag State requirements are often identical to SOLAS with minor additions and interpretations. Some alternative chemical gases have been proposed banned under national legislation.

SOLAS Ch. II-2, Reg.7 requires all machinery spaces with power output exceeding 375 kW (510 hp), all oil-fired boiler rooms and purifier rooms to be provided with a fixed extinguishing system. Some of the existing Halon installations have been installed as an additional safety measure in spaces not required to be protected and may normally be decommissioned without replacement.
SOLAS Ch. II-2, Reg.7 basically identifies three options for extinguishing systems for the spaces to be protected:
I. Water spray systems (SOLAS Ch.II-2, Reg.10)
II. CO2 extinguishing systems (SOLAS Ch.II-2, Reg.5)
III. High expansion foam systems (SOLAS Ch.II-2, Reg.9)

In addition to the above systems, alternative and equivalent systems have later been developed and acceptance criteria established in IMO Circulars referred to in Amendments to SOLAS 1974. The equivalent systems are subject to fullscale prototype testing, including fire extinguishing tests and mechanical testing of components. The systems can be categorised as follows:

IV. Water mist systems equivalent to SOLAS Ch.II-2, Reg.10 (equivalent standard: IMO MSC/Circ. 668/728)
V. Alternative gas extinguishing systems (equivalent standard: IMO Circ. 776)
VI. Inside air high expansion foam systems (equivalent standard: IMO
MSC/Circ. 668/728)

One of the above systems I-VI is to be installed. Systems designed according to above item I are to be reviewed on a case by case basis. For systems II through VI, references to type approved products have been included in appendix A.

1 The Sub-Committee on Fire Protection, at its fortieth session (17 to 21 July 1995), having noted that, under the 1992 amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention (resolution MSC.27(61)), new installations of halon fire-extinguishing systems had been prohibited as from 1 October 1994, recalled its previous decision that, for the time being and until appropriate halon banking facilities were established, halons need not be withdrawn from existing systems.

2 The Sub-Committee considered it useful that information on the availability of halons at various ports of the world be circulated, as existing halon systems may need to be recharged with recycled halons to comply with the relevant requirements of the 1974 SOLAS Convention.

4 The attached annex contains the revised listing of halon banking and reception facilities based on information received by the Secretariat during 2008, which supersedes that annexed to FP.1/Circ.35.

Phase out of halons
Advice on Alternatives and Guidelines for Users of Fire Fighting and Explosion Protection Systems
 Ship halon alternative

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