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28 November 2018
At a recent Waste Sector Fire Conference, leading professionals brought many differing opinions to discussions surrounding the challenges and changes they faced in relation to fire safety.
Some recyclers claimed they had faced difficulties commercially complying with stack heights and separation distances but, insurers suggested regulations needed to go further.
Gill Weeks OBS, board member at the Environment Agency stated that, while the Environment Agency initial versions of the Fire Prevention Plans (FPPs) hadn’t always been right, it has been open to changes.
Mrs Weeks conceded that while the first revision “wasn’t our finest hour”, the Agency has always been open to suggestions and showed a willingness to change.
In relation to wood recyclers, Julia Turner, executive director of the WRA, explained “the biggest problem for us in the last few years have been FPPs.
“We are all worried about waste fires and want to make sure they are kept to a minimum, but both version one and two didn’t’ work and the third was also unworkable too.”
Despite these claims, Mark Allen of Willis Tower Watson explained how insurance companies have “no appetite” for waste companies due to the fire risk they pose, made clear by only one insurance professional showing up to the conference.
“General feedback has been that there needs to be more checks and balances in the field. FPPs have actually been viewed as a negative. There has been a general consensus that they need to be far-reaching and really have teeth.”
A highlight on the seriousness of waste fires was given by Mark Andrews, assistant chief officer at East Sussex Fire & Rescue.
He explained that fire services across the country have been trying to tackle fires in the waste sector by working together with regulators and the industry in a more collaborative manner.
Mr Andrews stated, “The Memorandum of Understanding saw joint inspections, so a fire inspector and an EA officer would visit together, as opposed to on two separate days and potentially saying different things. This helped us a lot.
“There is more to do but the principle is better, starting with working together.”