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Earlier this year the UK Environment Agency published new fire prevention plan guidance specifically for businesses that store combustible waste. The guidance defines combustible waste as paper, cardboard, wood, plastics, rubber, textiles, fragmentiser waste, scrap metals, refuse derived fuel, waste electrical equipment, compost and biomass.
If your business stores any of these materials, make sure that you are familiar with the policy changes, outlined below.
Who are the UK Environmental Agency?
The UK Environment Agency are charged with protecting and improving our environment, in the interests of both people and our native wildlife. As a result of this confluence of interests, they are most active in places where environmental change impacts most directly on people’s lives. They accomplish this through a number of focuses:
- reducing flood and fire risk to people and properties
- ensuring the availability of water for people and wildlife
- protecting and improving land, water and air quality
- acting to reduce our impact on climate change and helping people and wildlife adapt to its consequences
These values drive the UK Environmental Agency’s initiatives, requiring the collaborative efforts of a number of other agencies, from government bodies to local authorities and communities. In the case of the new fire guidance plan, they also involve the cooperation of businesses.
Do you staff know your fire alarm procedure? Does your business have fire exit doors, and are these fire exit doors properly signed and maintained?
If not, they should be:
The new fire prevention plan
The guidance outlines a number of specifications that businesses must adhere to in order to store their combustible waste safely and legally. These include:
- A written management system containing your business’ fire prevention plans. This must be displayed at a location where it is accessible to all staff. All staff and site contracts must familiarise themselves with this policy.
- A clear assessment of the fire risk to your premises, and the detection, containment and safety measures you have in place to protect your business and your staff against fires. This should all be included in your written management system.
- Detection and suppression methods in the event of a fire, including but not restricted to fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire rated doors, and fire exit doors, which facilitate the safe, timely evacuation of staff, contractors, and site visitors.
Who do these changes apply to?
In addition to businesses involved with the storage of combustible waste, these standards also apply to businesses with permits which state the legal necessity for a fire prevention plan, or businesses applying for said permits.
Currently, commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already required to complete a fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
It is worth noting that if your fire risk assessment is thought to have been improperly conducted, or carried out incorrectly, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.
Fire risk assessment is hugely important to any premises, especially business grounds. Something as simple as installing fire exit doors or displaying your written fire management system could mean the difference between a safe, secure business premises and prison time. To avoid criminal action, make sure your business is operating in accordance to all of the UK Environment Agency’s specifications.
This article is by no means exhaustive. To view the guidance in full, click here.