FM200 phase-down and what it means

The valve system of a gas fire extinguishing

Wondering about the FM200 phase-down and what it means? You might be curious about what’s happening with trusted FM200 (also known at HFC227ea). It’s not going away, but some changes are on the horizon.

The phase-down of FM200 began in 2022, with a scheduled 85% worldwide reduction by 2037.

It’s all part of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, following the latest tweaks to the Montreal Protocol in 2016. You can read the “Australian Greenhouse Authority Paper” for detailed information.

The collective awareness of the impact of HFC on global warming drives these adjustments. The goal is to reduce its contribution by 0.44 degrees Celsius by 2100.


  • Why a phase-down and not a phase-out? The phase-down provides for a residual amount of HFC imports from 2036 after the completion of the phase-down. HFCs available in Australia during and after the phase-down will not be restricted to particular uses or industries. The government anticipates the available HFCs will be used in part for low volume use where alternatives are not available and for maintenance of equipment that has already been imported into Australia.
  • What does the phase-down cover? The HFC phase-down covers only imports of bulk gas, such as in cylinders. It does not cover gas imported in pre-charged equipment such as air-conditioners or refrigerators. HFCs contained in imported equipment are accounted for in the country of manufacture and are subject to the phase-down under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the Montreal Protocol).
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  • Who is directly affected by the phase-down? The refrigeration and air conditioning industry is the main user of HFCs. Importers of bulk HFCs are directly affected by the phase-down.
  • Are there requirements for equipment importers and retailers? No. There is no import quota for HFCs in pre-charged equipment, such as air-conditioners, refrigerators and fire extinguishers. HFCs contained in imported equipment are accounted for in the country of manufacture and are subject to the phase-down under the Montreal Protocol.
  • Will equipment owners have to replace their existing equipment as part of the phase-down? No. Existing equipment that has already been imported into Australia is not affected by the phase-down. HFCs for servicing existing equipment will be available as the overall pace of the phase-down is designed to match demand and end-of-life equipment replacement. If necessary, HFC supply can be supplemented by recovery of used HFCs and reprocessing back to manufacturers’ specifications.
  • Will equipment be banned in the future? Bans on importing or manufacturing new equipment may be considered in the future when alternative technologies are readily available. This will only be implemented following a review and further consultation with industry. Any potential future bans would only apply to new equipment being imported or manufactured and not to equipment already installed in Australia.
Engineer with tablet check red generator pump for water sprinkler piping and fire alarm control system

The phase-down impact on the fire protection industry

HFCs are a group of synthetic greenhouse gases (SGGs) found in fire protection equipment and special hazard systems. The most commercially used HFC in fire protection is HFC227ea (FM200).

It is estimated that FM200 has achieved approximately 80% of the worldwide market for the replacement of halon in firefighting systems (Gaseous Fire Suppression Systems in Australia Stage 1 Report). FM200 is the main scheduled extinguishing agent used in special hazard systems in Australia.

The overall pace of the phase-down is designed to match demand and equipment replacement at end of life. The intention is to align demand for HFCs with supply to avoid spikes in the price of HFCs that might lead to prematurely retiring equipment.

Reducing CO2-e quota limits could lead to more limited availability of HFCs used by fire technicians when installing a suppression system or re-filling a container. However, equipment manufacturers and importers are expected to gradually change their equipment range to align with the bulk HFC phase-down. This will happen as consumers demand up-to-date technology, and manufacturers will want to ensure their products can be serviced for the entire equipment life. This was the experience with Australia’s successful phase out of HCFCs and HCFC equipment.

The phase-down could reduce imports of new HFCs by encouraging businesses to recover existing HFCs instead. Halon recovery is commonplace, and the phase-down may have the same implications for HFCs. It may lead to some manufacturers moving more quickly than they otherwise would have to support alternative extinguishing agents with a lower GWP. There may be advances in developing new or less established alternative fire protection technologies. Long-term savings to end users and the broader economy could flow from new technology that requires lower maintenance, has lower leak rates, and is more efficient.

Current alternatives to FM200

Several alternative fire suppression gases to FM200 are used for fire suppression in various environments. These alternatives are typically chosen based on factors such as environmental concerns, safety and the specific needs of the protected space.

Fire expert installing a pipe for fire system
  • Novec 1230: Novec 1230 is a fluorinated ketone-based fire suppression agent considered environmentally friendly and safe for occupied spaces. It has a very low global warming potential (GWP) and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP).
  • CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): Carbon dioxide is a widely used fire suppression agent. It is effective in displacing oxygen and suppressing fires, but it’s unsuitable for occupied spaces without the proper safety measures due to its potential to cause asphyxiation.
  • Argonite: Argonite (a mixture of argon and nitrogen gases) is an inert gas fire suppression system that doesn’t deplete oxygen levels in the protected space. It is considered environmentally friendly and safe for occupied areas.
  • IG-55 (Nitrogen and Argon): IG-55 is a mixture of nitrogen and argon gases. Like Argonite, it is an inert gas fire suppression system that doesn’t pose risks to human health. It is often used in data centres and other critical facilities.
  • IG-541 (Nitrogen, Argon and CO2): IG-541, also known as Inergen, is a mixture of nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide. Inergen is considered an environmentally friendly alternative and is safe for occupied spaces.
  • SAPPHIRE Suppression System: The SAPPHIRE system uses 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid, similar to Novec 1230. It is an advanced clean agent fire suppression system that is environmentally friendly and suitable for occupied areas.

DEM Fire has established a formidable track record in delivering fire safety solution designs across various projects. Our accomplished team of award-winning engineers spearheads the industry, holding full accreditation in strict compliance with New South Wales legislative requisites.

When you want to work with a highly qualified and comprehensive team or learn more about the phase- down of FM200, talk to us today. We put your needs first.

Contact DEM Fire & Essential Services Group

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