Fire Prevention Plan for waste

Published:  01 August, 2016

New strict requirements have been issued for all waste site operators handling combustible waste in the UK.

The regulatory body of waste and recycling sites has issued a number of fire prevention measures to minimise the likelihood of a fire happening; extinguish a fire within four hours; and minimise the spread of fire within the site and to neighbouring sites.

The new guidance outlines that all operators are expected to have procedures in place to detect a fire. Appropriate automated systems include; smoke and heat detectors including temperature probes; CCTV visual flame detection systems; and spark, infrared and ultraviolet detection.

In addition, operators that store waste in a building must install a fire suppression system that enables a fire to be extinguished within four hours. Suitable fire suppression systems include sprinklers; water spray (deluge) systems and water curtains.

As reported in Industrial Fire Journal (Second quarter 2016 issue 104), the EA had for the last few months been considering the results of a consultation regarding version three of its Fire Prevention Plan, which was first issued in 2013.

A condition for securing the Environmental Permit necessary to operate, the FPP is a detailed document and management system used by site operators to effectively manage site fire risk and its impact on the environment.

Site operators can deviate from the Fire Prevention Plan guidance but to do so a full technical argument must be presented.

Since July 2015 the Environment Agency has rejected 65% of Fire Prevention Plans submitted by waste operators, with only 35% being accepted as robust enough.

The highly prescriptive document covers a number of factors including the types/quantities of waste stored; site layout; access routes; fire risk assessment; emergency procedures and environmental protection measures.

The publication of the new FPP has not been welcomed by industry. The Wood Recyclers Association had argued that the proposed stack sizes of three to five metres would make it impractical for the country’s waste wood supply chain to handle the country’s 4.5 million tonnes of annual arisings. It estimated that it would require most sites to increase their footprints by a scale of 10-15 times.

Under the updated guidance, waste operators must not store waste for longer than six months, stacks of waste should be no more than four metres high, and a separation distance of six metres between stacks must be maintained.

During the consultation the waste industry had also taken issue with the proposed maximum acceptable burn time of three to four hours until extinguishment.

This figure was arrived at following a consultation with another government organisation, Public Health England, who determined that a person with health problems should not be expected to shelter in their home for longer than this period of time.

Download the full document here:

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