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Extinguishing the threat of fire water

Containment of fire water remains a serious environmental issue. In fact, the environmental damage caused by fire is often created by the water used to fight it rather than the actual fire itself. This is because fire water contains many hazardous substances which are the by-products of combustion. Fire can turn normally safe materials into hazardous, polluting and environmentally damaging substances.

Safe management of fire water is an essential requirement of Fire Prevention Plans which are required by the Environment Agency as a condition of an Environmental Permit. Fire water must not be freely disposed of into the wider environment, so it is important to prevent it from escaping, for example by temporarily blocking drains and using fixed or demountable containment areas. Water is unpredictable and has a habit of finding routes to flow across a site in unexpected directions, and may end up in a river, sewer or in the ground. Such a pollution incident can lead to crippling costs to pay for the clean-up exercise, long term legal issues, loss of reputation not to mention the damaging impact on the environment and wildlife.


Who is responsible for managing this?

Business owners must have a standalone Fire Prevention Plan which contains procedures for controlling fire water runoff in accordance with CIRIA (736) Containment systems for the prevention of pollution. This must include details of the measures in place to collect, contain or store fire water in the event of an emergency and its safe disposal off site. To prevent unwanted firewater from running into drainage systems, nearby rivers or groundwater, you first need to determine the runoff source and the potential flow pathway it shall take. Once the pathways are understood, it is then crucial to understand the potential volume that can be safely stored on site through secondary and tertiary containment.

Fire water containment can be achieved through temporary or permanent structures, which can be above ground (e.g. lagoons) or below ground (e.g. isolation tanks), depending on the site’s characteristics and runoff volumes. You can also use pollution control equipment such as fire water booms and drain mats to block drains or divert fire water. Any sign of negligence which leads to the release of contaminated run-off water can have serious consequences and is an offence that the Environment Agency may take enforcement action upon.


What support is available?

Engaging the combined advice of an environmental and flood risk consultant can help you to meet the required regulations and avoid potential enforcement action. The team at Ashfield are experts in this field and our approachable and adaptable demeaner means together we can navigate this complex and important area, creating a fire water management plan that works for your site. Added to this we can provide options to insure away many liabilities that are associated with environmental risk.

Ensure you can prevent potential liabilities from creating lasting financial impact on your business, approach Ashfield.


Added to this we can provide options to insure away many liabilities that are associated with environmental risk....