Sea-Fire Europe is ceasing distribution of fire-suppression systems that use hydrofluorocarbon agents. The company made the decision to counter supply issues that are arising because of a mandated phase-down of HFCs in Europe and because the company says the move is the responsible action to take, given the adverse impact the gases have on the environment.
HFCs are man-made gaseous agents used in fire-suppression and HVAC industries. The most commonly used for fighting fires is HFC227, also known as FM-200. It is a greenhouse gas that is said to contribute to global warming. The discharge of an average-sized fire extinguisher system cylinder of HFC227 reportedly has the same CO equivalent as driving a car 167,000 miles.
As an ongoing part of the original 1987 Montreal Protocol that dealt with the phase-out of Halon, the regulations were put in place to reduce HFCs. In the last year, there was a 37 percent reduction from a 2015 baseline, with more reductions scheduled.
The phase-down creates HFC227 shortages that could drive up prices. The forecast for Europe is for costs to double in the next 18 months. The decreased availability will also adversely affect the ability to service the systems.
Sea-Fire Europe is replacing HFC227 with a proven alternative, 3M Novec 1230 fire-suppression fluid, which is electrically non-conductive and non-corrosive. Sea-Fire says in a statement the fluid also has an “almost negligible global warming potential.” It also has a low toxicity value and a high safety factor.
“Information on climate change tends to be confusing, often contradictory and seemingly endless,” said Ernie Ellis, Sea-Fire Marine president, in the statement. “But we’re taking this first step in Europe because we know it’s the right thing to do.”