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Turn in hazardous Halon extinguishers

Published: 16th November 2009

NSW residents and business owners have been warned that old yellow fire extinguishers are hazardous and should be turned in to the nearest fire station.

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said the extinguishers contained halon gas, which was extremely damaging to the ozone layer and the NSW Fire Brigade is concerned there are still thousands in households across the State.

"Halon extinguishers have been illegal to own or operate since 1995. The National Halon Bank was set up in 1993 to manage the appropriate disposal of this harmful chemical," Mr Whan said.

"Since 1993, 450 tonnes of Halon gas has been collected in NSW, with half a tonne - or about 400 fire extinguishers - collected in NSW in the past year, including a number of extinguishers handed in to fire crews on the Central Coast in recent weeks.

"Residents and business owners who come across a yellow fire extinguisher on their property should take it to their local NSW Fire Brigades fire station or contact the National Halon Bank on 1800 658 084 to arrange collection."

 Mr Whan said everyone should have a fire extinguisher in their home.

"It could mean the difference between a small fire that is quickly and safely extinguished and a potentially devastating experience for your family," he said.

"Small fires can be extinguished quickly if you have the right equipment at hand and you know how to use it.

"With almost 50 per cent of all house fires starting in the kitchen, the Fire Brigade recommends that all homes have fire extinguishers in the kitchen, stored at least one metre from the stove."

NSWFB Commissioner Greg Mullins said it was important that households had the right extinguisher and that it was always in working order.

"Dry chemical powder extinguishers are the most versatile type of fire extinguisher. They can be used on a range of fires including electrical, cooking and plastic fires," he said.

"If you have a dry chemical powder fire extinguisher, turn the extinguisher upside down for 10 minutes every six months to ensure the powder is free-flowing. If you do have to use your fire extinguisher, it must be re-filled by a registered fire extinguisher service organisation or replaced.

"If you have a fire in the home and you do not feel confident to extinguish it, use your home escape plan to exit the house quickly and call Triple Zero (000) from a safe place."

Newer, red fire extinguishers can also be recycled. In NSW, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water works with local councils to provide drop off centres for old fire extinguishers, with weekend drop off centres organised throughout the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions.

For details of drop off centre times and locations go to www.cleanout.com.au