Reducing Fire Risk At Waste Management Sites

Reducing fire risk at waste management sites requires a multi-pronged approach, from staff training to suppression systems to suitable storage. Due to waste management sites posing significant fire risk, owing partially to the melting pot of different combustive materials in one location, it’s vital to mitigate the fire risksHere, we outline the best site practices to ensure the reduced likelihood and frequency of fires occurring.

Six steps to reducing fire risk at waste management sites 

Fire safety and prevention at waste management sites is crucial. From smart segregation to recycling and waste management fire suppression systems, having proper procedures, awareness, and adherence in place helps ensure the safety of personnel, prevent property damage, and minimise environmental impact.

1. Carry out fire  prevention plans

The first action is to carry out a fire risk assessment of the site. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, any responsible person(s) have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of fire and ensure people can safely escape the premises in the event of a fire. This review involves a physical inspection of the building to assess (broadly) where on a site there are combustible or flammable materials, potential ignition sources, and people at risk.  It should assess whether precautions already in place - such as existing building construction, escape routes, and fixed fire systems - are adequate. Likewise, the UK’s Environmental Agency (EA) often requires waste operators storing combustible waste to have an approved Fire prevention plan (FPP) in place. This can cover plant equipment, stipulating some form of fire extinguishment or automatic fire suppression system is fitted. 

2. Properly segregate and store waste

Considering how a processing area is separated, either by distance or segregation through barriers, plays a huge role in reducing fire risk at waste management sites. For example, to segregate waste reception from waste processing, the two areas could be located well away from each other, or walls could be constructed. It’s also important to store flammable and combustible materials in designated areas, away from ignition sources and with plenty of ventilation.

3. Installing fire detection and fire fighting equipment

To detect fires early, ensure equipment such as smoke detectors, heat sensors, and fire alarm systems are located throughout the facility where needed (based on the fire risk assessment). Should a fire break out, having the appropriate fire safety equipment at hand, such as fire extinguishers, fire hoses, and fire blankets, is also a legal requirement. Personnel on site should also be trained on the proper use of this equipment, and familiar with protocols and escape routes, should an emergency occur.

4. Implementing recycling and waste management fire suppression systems

To save valuable time in the event of a fire, a fire suppression system can both detect and control a fire in its early stages without human intervention. For recycling and waste management sites, fires can be high profile, leading to intervention from local authorities and the Environmental Agency to ensure that appropriate measures are being taken to reduce the likelihood and impact of fires. Ardent fire suppression systems help site operators meet the FPP objectives by minimising the risk of mobile plant and equipment fires spreading within the site and to neighbouring sites.

5. Tighten security measures

Mitigating the risk of unauthorised access and arson can go a long way in reducing fire risk at waste management sites. Security features such as CCTV cameras, fencing, and proper lighting can help deter trespassing and vandalism.

6. Regular site inspections and maintenance

As well as keeping a site clean and free of flammable debris, conducting regular inspections can identify and rectify hazards promptly, helping prevent fires from ever occurring in the first place. It’s also crucial to regularly maintain equipment, machinery, and electrical systems to prevent malfunctions that could lead to fires. We offer personalised and proactive system servicing, as well as 24/7 support, so site operators can focus on business. In-between regular servicing, we recommend daily maintenance checks, such as regular cleaning of vehicles, as well as inspecting primary ignition points, checking for wear and tear, tightening loose connections, and checking the braking system.

To learn more about how Ardent helps recycling and waste management clients prevent potentially catastrophic fires, read our case studies, sign up to our newsletter, or get in touch for more information.