Halon fire extinguishers date back to the 1950s when they were used in Europe and later transferred to USA around 1970. Halon has always been a very effective fire fighting agent and hence is extensively used in aircraft and military operations, aviation companies, manufacturing industries for combating fire. Halon is generally available in two types normally Halon 1301 which is a gaseous agent and Halon 1211 which is a liquid agent. These extinguishers are commonly used for fires caused by electrical equipments or flammable liquids. They can also be used for normal fires.
Out of all the fire extinguishers, halon based ones are used rarely. However halon has some very supreme qualities over other agents. It is recyclable and does not leave any residue, which results the electrical equipment from being corroded or damaged. Beside it is absolutely odorless. The method of operation of halon fire extinguishers is very different from the other types of fire extinguishers because they extinguish fire by stopping the chemical reaction caused by the various factors which lead to fire, unlike other extinguishers which eliminate one of the factors causing the fire.
Halon is filled under very high pressure in cylinders and when sprayed it bursts out in bits of ice. Care should be taken to avoid human contact in such a case as it may cause a frost bite. These tools are light in weight and hence can be handled easily. The general coverage area or range of discharge of this type of extinguisher is 9 to 15 feet.
For many years there have been a lot of discussions regarding the use of halon for extinguishing fire. While it is banned in UK and Australia, there is no restriction regarding its use in USA, Asia and Middle East. However, the production of new extinguishers of this type has been stopped. The existing ones are replaced or recycled and used repeatedly. Since halon can not be disposed off easily, it is better to recycle it for continued use. The extinguishers seen in an aircraft are generally halon based. Since domestic fires are not so volatile, the halon fire extinguisher is not found commonly in regular households. Many companies and institutions use them depending on the requirements.
The main reason for the ban of halon is the fact that it leads to the depletion of the ozone layer and so its use is discouraged. These extinguishers also need to be handled with a lot of care and all instructions provided in the manual must be followed properly. The halon fire extinguishers pose danger to the human body by causing suffocation, frost bite, dizziness, irritation of the eyes or skin, irregular heartbeats and so on. However since they are very effective, they are popular among all fire extinguishers for sale. With a few precautions, these extinguishers can act as the best fire fighting agents.