Firms must replace 'halon-based' fire fighting systems this year for environmental compliance

Article date: 13 February 2003

Norwich Union risk managers are warning UK firms to replace anyfire suppression systems which use the extinguishing agent, Halon1301, by the end of 2003 or potentially face legal action under anew EU regulation.

Evidence gathered by the company’s field consultantssuggests that businesses have poor levels of knowledge andunderstanding of their obligations and the consequences of failureto comply.

The regulation – which implements the Montreal Protocoldealing with ozone depleting substances – requires all Halonsystems to be dismantled and the substance removed and safelydestroyed at a registered disposal site.

Allister Smith, property risk manager for Norwich Union, says:“Already, it is against environmental legislation to refillor replace any existing systems with Halon. This could leave abusiness unnecessarily exposed to property risks, businessinterruption and, in some cases, it could have an effect on theprovision or continuity of insurance cover.”

Fire suppression systems have often been installed as part of arisk management programme to protect valuable equipment in criticalareas such as data centres, computer suites, telecommunicationswitch centres and power plant rooms.

Smith continues: “With less than a year to go before thephase-out of Halon, businesses need to allow sufficient time fordesigners and installers to implement new systems with analternative fire suppression agent.”

Norwich Union, in conjunction with fire protection experts,Grinnell UK, provides its policyholders with a solution to theHalon phase-out problem using Inergen gas. This is an alternativefire suppressant, which is a blend of naturally occurring gases,including nitrogen and argon. It extinguishes fire by displacingand diluting oxygen in the location of the fire. The agent is alsonon-harmful to people and meets the environmental requirements ofthe EU regulation on ozone depletion.


For further information, please contact:
JonClements at Staniforth Communications on 0161 274 0100 or DavidRoss at Norwich Union on 08703 66 68 65/07786 526350.

Notes to editors

  • Norwich Union Insurance is the UK's largest insurer with amarket share of around 16 per cent and is more than 1.5 times thesize of its nearest rival. It is also the largest personal linesinsurer.
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    • one in five households
    • one in five motor vehicles
    • more than 700,000 businesses
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