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Consultancy calls for better management standards to cut fire toll

A waste management consultancy has called for the Environment Agency to consider the effect of management standards in its assessment of fire regulations.

This comes as Hadfield Wood Recyclers announced it is currently not accepting materials at its Manchester and Middlesbrough sites due to avoid enforcement action from the EA relating to its new fire prevention plan (FPP) guidance.

The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) said it could not understand why the EA did not wait until the completion of tests, into how fires start and develop in waste wood stacks, before issuing the new FPP document.

The association, which is funding further burn trials in September, said that the maximum stack sizes, 167 tonnes for unprocessed wood and 33 tonnes for processed, and separation distances required by the FPP, are commercially unworkable.

Now consultancy Monksleigh claims that management standards have not kept up with the move to greater processing and storage. It suggested the EA and operators might be unaware of the risk dust and accumulated debris poses.

It also said there used to be a correlation between the drop in commodity prices or the financial stress on a company and the frequency of fires, as businesses built up waste stocks which they could not afford to dispose of.

Monksleigh director Andrew Olie said: “General housekeeping is more important than size of stockpiles. My gut feeling is that if this is considered, then the current approach to tiny storage volumes and fire breaks between piles may be focused in the wrong areas.”

He thought most facilities were well managed but suggested the EA should produce some statistics showing the link between site management and fires.

Monksleigh wants the EA to consider a risk assessment of other factors, including size of companies experiencing the most fires and most common causes.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I agree that general site tidiness is a good indicator of a reduced fire risk, but the EA needs to gather more intelligence from good operators about companies who are undercutting prices and generally operating in a way that cannot be sustained. We all know the companies who 'sail close to the wind' and the EA need to consult more often and set up forums of operators.

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