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How to assess the risk from Fire Water Runoff

Contaminated fire water runoff remains a serious problem, especially at any major incident involving hazardous or polluting materials.  Firewater, in this context, is defined as the liquid which arises from water, foam, rainwater or other substances that have been used for fire-fighting purposes.

Contaminated fire water can cause environmental pollution and could potentially lead to the site operator or owner facing a fine or even prosecution, so it is essential that you have a strategy to manage the risk and include it in your emergency plans and procedures.

As highlighted in our previous blog,  business owners require 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. It is also an essential requirement of Fire Prevention Plans which are required by the Environment Agency as a condition of an Environmental Permit.

How to identify fire water runoff risk on a site

It is important to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment. Enlisting the help of a specialist will make the process much easier and ensure it is carried out accurately and efficiently. Failure to prepare can have severe consequences and lead to fines.

Areas to consider:

  • What will be the volume of water that might be used to tackle a fire?
  • What substances do you store on site that are classed as potentially hazardous, especially if they encounter excess fire water?
  • Do you know where your drains actually discharge?
  • Assess all potential above and below ground pathways which may lead off-site where fire water could flow e.g., surface water drains, foul drains, direct runoff into watercourses or absorption through the ground.
  • Are all your present chemical containment measures fit for purpose, regularly inspected, and maintained?
  • Are storage areas and containers sited away from watercourses, surface water drains and unsurfaced areas?
  • Do storage containers have secondary containment, such as a bund to contain any leaks or spills?
  • Depending on the size or complexity of the site, you may also need to undertake a drainage survey to establish all potential runoff pathways.

Assessing these areas will help you to determine what additional measures are required to sufficiently manage fire water runoff to protect your business as well as the wider environment. This is where Ashfield can help. We can provide you with realistic solutions to increase potential on-site containment where required.

Specialist Fire Water Consultants

Our team of highly experienced flood risk and environmental consultants are well versed in managing the expectations of environmental regulators such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW). We are also closely aligned with drainage surveyors located nationwide, who can provide detailed site drainage layout drawings and CCTV condition surveys.

Our wealth of experience has led us to being able to offer a comprehensive service, which can be tailored for each individual site and client requirements.

Please contact us today to speak directly to our experts.

Contaminated fire water can cause environmental pollution and could potentially lead to the site operator or owner facing a fine or even prosecution