ALBANY, N.Y. – There are more details about the gas that
discharged Thursday night, sending two workers at the state office campus to
Halon is a fire suppressant used to extinguish fires when
water isn't an option. On Thursday, a halon tank somehow discharged as workers were
loading it into a truck to be removed. However, if the accident had not
happened outside, the consequences could have been much more
Fire fighters first responded for a report of a tank that
exploded and found two men, both with injuries severe enough to be taken to
Albany Medical Center.
The cause behind their injuries was halon gas according to
Deputy Fire Chief Frank Nemey with the Albany Fire Department.
"Halon was designed to smother a fire through
asphyxiation," said Nemey.
It's not flammable or toxic as it suppresses fire by pushing
out or removing the oxygen in a room .
Halon tanks are used in rooms where there are different
types of computers, electronics, and wires, things that if they get wet, they
get ruined. So, in the event of a fire they use gas that suppresses it.
"So it doesn't damage electronics, they can recover hard drivers and
information when they need to," said Chief Nemey.
There are many different types of halon but the original
type was found to be unsafe.
"They found that the original halon systems and chemicals were hazardous to
the ozone layers," Nemey explained.
The fire suppressant had the potential to be hazardous to people too, if you
are inside a closed room when the gas is released.
"That same asphyxiation is a problem for humans as well," he said.
While it is best to be outside when handling halon, it can still cause
injury when that gas is stored in a tank in a liquid state and very cold.
Nemey said "The liquid can cause frost bite; the air coming out under
pressure, just air moving will damage skin as well"
The two men that were hurt suffered non-life threatening
injuries and at least one of them suffered burns. The tanks are regulated
and must be inspected. It's unknown what condition the tank that ruptured
was in, but the fire chief said it was at least 10 years old and out
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