Extinguishing agents

Annex 2.11 of the Chemical Risk Reduction Ordinance (OORChem) regulates ozone-depleting extinguishing agents and extinguishing agents stable in the atmosphere in Switzerland. The development of this regulation reflects the advancing state of the technology. In the amendment of 1 June 2019, a ban on the use of ozone-depleting extinguishing agents was decided, which will enter into force on 1 June 2024. 

 

Basic legal sources


1. Ozone-depleting extinguishing agents 

Extinguishing agents that contain substances that deplete the ozone layer in accordance with Annex 1.4 ORRChem are regarded as ozone-depleting extinguishing agents (Annex 2.11, number 1, paragraph 1, ORRChem). These include, for example, halons such as Bromotrifluoromethane (Halon 1301) or Bromochlorodifluoromethane (Halon 1211), which have very high ozone depleting potentials. 

Prohibitions

Since 1 January 1992, the placing on the market, including the import, of ozone-depleting extinguishing agents and of equipment or systems containing such extinguishing agents has been prohibited (Annex 2.11, number 2.1 ORRChem).

New ban on use

From 1 June 2024, a ban on the use of ozone-depleting extinguishing agents applies, which was decided by the Federal Council in April 2019 as part of an amendment to the ORRChem (Annex 2.11 section. 4.1 of the amending regulation, AS 2019 1495, available in German, French and Italian). Systems containing extinguishing agents that deplete the ozone layer (e.g. halons) must be taken out of service before this date and the extinguishing agent contained must be disposed of or recycled properly.

The ban on use was decided in order to reduce the risk of leaks in systems that still contain ozone-depleting extinguishing agents. Then although the installed quantity of ozone-depleting extinguishing agents had decreased significantly since the ban on placing on the market entered into force, in 2017 about a quarter of the quantity reported in 1992 was still present in systems. The risk of leaks and thus damage to the environment rises increasingly with the ageing of systems and the decreasing availability of spare parts for maintenance.

Exemptions

Exemptions to the above-mentioned prohibitions exist for use in aeroplanes, special-purpose military vehicles or nuclear installations, if the safety of persons cannot be adequately ensured in accordance with the current state of the art in fire prevention without the use of ozone-depleting extinguishing agents (Annex 2.11, number 2.2, letter d and paragraph 4.2 of the amending regulation).

Servicing

Owners of appliances or systems according to Annex 2.11, number 1, paragraphs 3 and 5 ORRChem that contain ozone-depleting extinguishing agents must have these serviced by a specialist regularly (Annex 2.11, number 6.2 ORRChem):

  • Appliances: every three years
  • Systems:    annually. 
 
 

2. Extinguishing agents stable in the atmosphere 

Extinguishing agents stable in the atmosphere are extinguishing agents containing substances stable in the atmosphere in accordance with Annex 1.5 ORRChem (Annex 2.11, number 1, paragraph 2 ORRChem). These include, for example, pentafluoroethane (HFC-125) or heptafluoropropane (HFC-227), which have global warming potentials thousands of times higher than CO2.

Prohibitions

Since 1 January 1996, the placing on the market of extinguishing agents stable in the atmosphere and of appliances or systems containing such extinguishing agents has been prohibited (Annex 2.11, number 2.1 ORRChem).

Exemptions

Exemptions to this prohibition exist for use in aeroplanes, special-purpose military vehicles or nuclear installations if the safety of persons cannot be adequately ensured in accordance with the current state of the art in fire prevention, without the use of extinguishing agents stable in the atmosphere (Annex 2.11, number 2.2, letter d ORRChem).

Servicing

Owners of appliances or systems according to Annex 2.11, number 1, paragraphs 3 and 5 ORRChem that contain extinguishing agents stable in the atmosphere must have these serviced by a specialist regularly (Annex 2.11, number 6.2 ORRChem):

  • Appliances: every three years
  • Systems:    annually. 
 

3. Extinguishing agents with fluorosurfactants

For extinguishing agents containing perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or their precursor substances, Annex 1.16 of the ORRChem applies. 

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Last modification 23.09.2019

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