Fire prevention – how can waste transfer stations ensure compliance?

Jun 15, 2020

Waste transfer stations store a vast amount of readily combustible matter and a wide range of different materials. This makes them among the most vulnerable to the risk of fire.

With the UK’s fire service being called to around 300 fires in waste sites per year[i], the need to place more appropriate measures to prevent fires and – in the event of a fire – to reduce downtime and damage to employee and environmental health is clear.

The high-risk nature of operations at waste transfer stations has gained the attention of the Environment Agency (EA), resulting in more stringent regulations, to ensure optimum fire prevention on these sites.

Waste transfer stations with minimal fire protection measures in place may be subject to fines and inflationary insurance premiums should they fail to meet regulation compliance. A key component of ensuring compliance is submitting a fire prevention plan (FPP) to the EA for approval, in order to obtain and environmental permit.

The requirements of an FPP

The FPP which is submitted to the EA must contain details of all activities carried out on site, the level of risk they hold and identify any other possible causes of fire within the site. It is also required to contain explicit details of the site plan, including a detailed site map.

The steps waste transfer stations can take to ensure compliance

As well as submitting an FPP and securing an environment permit, there are other, practical steps that waste transfer stations can take to ensure compliance:

1. Managing the common causes of fire

Electric faults, lithium batteries or even arson are common causes of fire, which can be controlled to mitigate their risks. Waste transfer stations can carry out regular risk assessments and act on the recommendations from these to reduce the risks they face.

2. Preventing self-combustion

As waste heats naturally overtime, prolonged periods of storage can result in self-combustion. As such, storage time should be controlled and temperature should be continuously monitored to mitigate the risk of overheating.

3. Managing waste piles

Waste piles should not exceed the legal size of 20 metres by four metres and should have a distance of at least six metres between them. The size and distances should be managed to reduce the risk of fire spreading between waste piles in the event a fire breaks out.

4. Fire detection and suppression systems

Fire detection, alarm and suppression systems should be incorporated with your fire risk assessment and specified within your FPP. Your fire detection and suppression system should be unique to your site’s individual needs to ensure the protection is as effective as possible.

Waste transfer stations need to be compliant with the standards outlined by the EA to prevent prosecution and reduce the risk of inflationary insurance premiums. By implementing fire protection measures, not only can the risk of prosecution be reduced, but it will also ensure protection for assets, human life and the environment.

For more information on how to ensure compliance with both the EA and insurer standards or to book your free site survey today, get in touch.


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