The Environment Agency (EA) has urged end-of-life vehicle (ELV) site operators to get their fire prevention plans (FPPs) up and running after the UK experienced one of the hottest summers on record.
August has been a particularly bad month for recycling site fires, with at least 14 breaking out around the country. The dry spell is expected to continue.
The EA said it had issued the warning in response to events such as the large fire in June at scrap metal firm Whites of Coventry, which led to the closure of Coventry Airport.
According to the EA, there were 24 reported fires at scrap car sites in 2017, up from 21 in 2016.
The EA has recently recruited a senior adviser, Peter Buckley, to provide technical support on FPPs for all types of waste sites. He joins senior environment and business adviser Tania Tucker, who specialises in ELVs.
Tucker said: ”Scrap yards are filled with potential fire risks. This is not hard to fathom [because they] are often littered with hazardous components, batteries can short circuit and unemptied fuel tanks can leak. Not to mention human error or, worst, arson.”
EA head of waste regulation Malcolm Lythgo added: “Fires on waste sites, particularly sites handling hazardous components, unfortunately happen all year round. However, dry, warm weather conditions bring an increased risk.
“It is really important that those handling ELVs have FPPs in place and engage with the EA for advice and support on keeping their sites safe.
”This is not just good for businesses, but also helps to safeguard the environment and surrounding communities.”
The EA’s FPP guidance seeks to minimise the likelihood of a fire happening, and advises on ways to minimise the spread of fire within a site and to neighbouring sites.
There are simple steps that can be taken to prevent the causes of fires. These include:
- Disconnecting and removing batteries as soon as reasonably practical after vehicles arrive on-site, to reduce the risk of electrical short circuits
- Using safe depollution equipment and storing fuel in containers designed to store it
- Ensuring vehicles are fully depolluted before crushing and shredding
- Enforcing a no smoking policy for staff and customers
- Following the Environment Agency guidance and putting a FPP in place