The Air Up There
In a joint statement issued yesterday by all major manufacturers of fire suppression chemicals including DuPont and 3M, fire suppression equipment manufacturers including UTC and Tyco, and environmental authorities from over 100 countries, the U.S. recycling industry was praised for its worldwide efforts in both the responsible management of the worlds growing bank of suppression chemicals along with the safe upkeep and maintenance of these important systems. An EPA official said, “If there wasn’t a recycling industry, we’d have to create one!”
Ok. We made that up. No one from any of these organizations said any such thing. But sometimes we wonder why not? After all, not only do planes fly, ships sail, petroleum pumping operations pump and soldiers kept safe in military vehicles because of the work of the “halon recycling” industry, but redundant chemicals – some of them with large environmental footprints — from decommissioned suppression systems have a ready market and a safe place to be stored until they are needed. Of course, some of these companies would like simply to sell new chemical agents instead of competing with the recycled market, but the reality of it is that we all have a product stewardship responsibility. The executives at these companies (at least the ones that we know) believe this. And if they don’t, then the EPA will remind them.
This year we’ve had the privilege of presenting our thoughts on the “Future of Clean Agent Fire Suppression” to NAFED’s regional conferences. When asked why a halon recycling company was going to speak on this subject when it could have been given by one of the chemical or equipment manufacturers, the answer – at least to us – was obvious: halon recyclers don’t have a dog in this fight! One of the chemical manufacturers, as hard as they may have tried to be objective, would not have surprised anyone by plugging their own product. The same can be said for the equipment manufacturers. And we suspect that they wouldn’t see “recycling” as part of the future of clean agent fire protection. Halon recyclers on the other hand not only make their living doing this, but most of them cover most of the full range of clean agent alternatives with no special ties to a particular fire suppression agent or equipment manufacturer.
One might say, “All of our dogs are in this fight!”
To see this in PDF form, click here: The Air Up There April 2010