Updated 9 November 2016
- Suppressing fires
If you store waste in a building, you must install a fire suppression system. This system should be proportionate to the nature and scale of waste management activities you carry out and the associated risks.
Your system needs to enable a fire to be extinguished within 4 hours. When deciding what type of system to install you need to take into account that:
- the fire and rescue service may not be able to enter the building during a fire
- a suppression system may not extinguish a fire, although it may prevent a fire spreading and then allow the fire to be fought effectively by the fire and rescue service
Appropriate fire suppression systems may include:
- water spray (deluge) systems
- water curtains
- fire blankets
You must make sure the design, installation and maintenance of all your automated suppression equipment is covered by an appropriate UKAS-accredited third party certification scheme.
There can be little doubt that the occurrence of fires in recycling centres is a significant problem for communities, the fire and rescue service, the environment and insurers. Casual monitoring of the national press suggests a serious fire in such locations is probably a daily occurrence In fact in 2013, more than 230 fires in recycling centres were recorded – more than 4 per week – and of course, these are only the fires to which the fire and rescue services were called.
The problem is perhaps as much the scale of some of these fires as their frequency. A number have burnt for days and some for even weeks and have created significant logistical problems for communities. A fire at Smethwick, for example, in which 100,000 tonnes of recycled plastic was involved, required the attendance of 39 fire appliances and 200 firefighters over 200 hours of firefighting activity. This same fire consumed 14 million litres of water simply to contain it and released an estimated 19,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.