Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
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.
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:
If you are an operator of fire protection equipment, you must comply with a number of obligations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You must keep records on systems which contain F-gases equivalent to 5 tonnes CO2, including:
If F-gases are removed from any fire protection system or fire extinguisher, they must be properly recovered by appropriately certified personnel.
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).
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.
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:
From 1 January 2017 the label must also indicate:
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.
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.
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