Halon is unquestionably the most widely used and efficient extinguishing agent used by the military in the last 50 years. Its major advantage is the volume of agent required to extinguish aggressive fires or those fuelled by heat and accelerants, resulting in lightweight and compact fire extinguishers.
Although the production of Halon was ceased in 1994 because of its contribution to the depletion of the Ozone Layer, it was deemed acceptable for use in ‘critical applications’ including military uses to fight fires in combat situations. However, a phase-out order was placed on the CFC gas forcing the UK MOD to release a call for tender in 2014 in an attempt to find a replacement extinguisher.
The hand-held unit was developed specifically for combat vehicles and had to provide a ‘drop-in’ alternative to the existing Halon extinguisher. Specific requirements for the extinguisher included the use of an environmentally-friendly clean agent that has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), whilst other criteria imposed size and weight limits and requested the demonstration of an ability to withstand extreme conditions.
In such a critical application it was essential the extinguisher could meet stringent performance requirements during extensive scenario testing and validation protocol before being approved for military use.