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Waste piles recommendations set out in draft fire guidance

Industry bodies, regulators and health and safety officials have made recommendations on the size and distance of stored waste piles as part of wider draft guidance on fire prevention.

A cross-industry group including the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Laboratories and the Chief Fire Officers Association has submitted for consultation a document that advises the industry on how to minimise the risk of fire accidents.

The draft guidance is intended for sites that handle more than 50m³ of solid combustible waste material at any one time. It includes detailed recommendations on stored waste piles, with size and distance requirements for different waste materials.

“The days of extremely large piles of stored waste with little or no separation between stacks, [known as] ‘mega-stacks’, must come to an end,” said the ESA in a letter that accompanied the consultation. “Fires in such stacks can burn for unacceptably long periods, are the most difficult to control and pose the greatest risk to the environment, human health and business.”

The ESA said that the guidelines were based on operational and fire fighting experience, and described the figures for distances included in the document as “conservative”.

It added the cross-industry planned to conduct testing to collect more scientific-based evidence on plies and sizes and distances.

“But, we cannot wait for what is likely to be complex and time-consuming testing and science before issuing guidance - the need is too urgent,” it said.

As waste specific testing data becomes available the group will revise the guidance.

The document covers a range of topics including assessment of fire risks, site locations, mobile plants, hot works, alarms and water supplies and is intended to supersede existing EA guidance TGN7.

The consultation closes on 25 July. Responses should be sent to

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