Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Fire protection equipment

F-gases in fire protection equipment

Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) are used in certain types of fire protection systems - such as specialised buildings serving computers or telecommunications. F-gases used in fire protection systems include hydrofluorocarbons.

The use of perfluorocarbons in firefighting equipment is now banned, except for military and aviation uses.

From 2016 the use of HFC 23 will be banned in new fire protection systems.

Responsibility for F-gas obligations

Most of the key F-gas duties lie with the operator. An operator is a person or business who has actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment. This includes:

  • free access to the system, eg supervising its components or functioning
  • control over the day-to-day running or function
  • powers, including financial, to decide on technical modifications, F-gas quantity modifications or have repairs carried out.
  • The owner of the equipment is usually the operator unless such functions have been transferred.

What you must do

Key F-gas obligations

If you are an operator of fire protection equipment, you must comply with a number of obligations.

Prevent leakage

Where it is technically possible and does not involve disproportionate cost, you must prevent leakage of F-gas from stationary fire protection systems and repair any discovered leaks as soon as possible.

Check for leaks regularly

How often you are required to check (using certified personnel) depends on the quantity of F-gases in the system and whether a leak detection system has been installed.

Leak testing frequencies

Until 31 December 2016 fire protection equipment with less than 3 kg of refrigerant, or with less than 6kg of refrigerant in a hermetically sealed unit, is exempt from the need to carry out leak checks.

Equipment charge Frequency of leak checks Frequency of checks if leak detection fitted
<5 tonnes CO2 equivalent N/A N/A
5 to <10 tonnes CO2 equivalent If hermetically sealed N/A otherwise 12 months If hermetically sealed N/A Otherwise 24 months
10 - <50 tonnes CO2 equivalent 12 Months 24 Months
50 – 500 tonnes CO2 equivalent 6 months 12 months
> 500 tonnes CO2 equivalent 3 months 6 months

 

The system must be checked within a month after a leak has been repaired to ensure that the repair has been effective.

Install automatic leak detection systems

You must fit a leak detection system to equipment with 300 kilograms or more of F-gases. This system must be checked every 6 months.

Testing in accordance with either the BS EN15004  or ISO 14520 standards will satisfy the F-gas obligations, as all gaseous fire protection systems should be checked every six months to meet the standard's requirements.

British Standards Institution (BSI): BS EN15004

International Organisation for Standardisation: ISO 14520-13

Maintain records

You must keep records on systems which contain F-gases equivalent to 5 tonnes CO2, including:

  • quantity and type of F-gas in the system
  • quantity of F-gas added to the system
  • quantity of F-gas recovered through servicing, maintenance and disposal
  • identity of business or personnel servicing or maintaining the system, and the dates and results of leak checks and leak detection system checks.

Recover gases

If F-gases are removed from any fire protection system or fire extinguisher, they must be properly recovered by appropriately certified personnel.

Hold personnel qualifications

Any personnel carrying out leak checking, gas recovery, installation, maintenance or servicing of equipment containing F-gases must hold an appropriate recognised qualification issued in the UK or the rest of the European Union (EU).

Fire Industry Authority: F-gas fire protection system qualifications

The person physically taking delivery of F-gas containers does not need to be qualified unless they also perform servicing or repair work.

Hold company certificates

Businesses that install, maintain or service the equipment must also hold a company certificate. The designated certification body in Great Britain is the FIA. To get a company certificate you must be able to show your staff hold the correct F-gas qualification, you have the correct tools and procedures available and you have enough staff to cover the work you do.

Labelling

New systems must be correctly labelled, stating the type and quantity of refrigerant used. The label must be located near to the service point.

This will include:

  • that the equipment contains f-gases
  • which f-gas is contained
  • the charge size

From 1 January 2017 the label must also indicate:

  • the CO2 equivalent of the charge
  • the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the f-gas contained

Submit reports

If you produce, import or export   equipment containing (pre-charged with) F-gases you must make sure that the HFCs are secured through the EU quota system and are purchased from an HFC quota holder. You must label the equipment and keep records of the F-gas you use.

GOV.UK: Importers of products containing F-gases – labels and record keeping

GOV.UK: Manufacturers of products containing F-gases – labels and record keeping

EUROPA: F-gas standard reporting template

Don't use non-refillable containers

Use of non-refillable containers for transporting and storing F-gases is banned. The placing on the market of non-refillable containers is banned, except for those manufactured (filled with F-gas) before 4 July 2007.

GOV.UK: F-gases in refrigeration, air conditioning and fire protection equipment

Further information

Defra: Qualifications required for working with F-gas

GOV.UK: F-gas - Guidance for users, producers and traders

Fire Industry Authority: F-gas fire protection system qualifications

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