London – UK’s Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) has urged the Environment Agency (EA) to reconsider its attempt to create a single set of ‘one size fits all’ fire prevention guidelines for waste and recycling materials, describing the move as ‘unviable’.
The need to store a diverse range of materials in various grades, each with differing combustibility, burn rates and fire risk, across widely differing sites, makes the adoption of a ‘catch-all’ solution impossible, said the TRA.
The move, it said, would pose “a severe threat” to reputable businesses, as it would encourage an increase in sites exempt from regulations.
Instead, the TRA statement said, the EA is urged to adopt a fire guidance policy which incorporates the conclusions of the burn tests organised by the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH) and supported by the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS).
One of the requirements in the agency’s proposal is an increase in spacing between waste materials, and a decrease in maximum heights.
To be accommodated, said TRA, existing regulated sites would need to expand their footprint by up to four times. This requirement, it added, “cannot be met either in terms of availability of suitable sites nor commercially due to the exponentially increased cost.”
Additionally, the statement said, there is no agreement among fire experts that this is the best approach to prevent, contain or fight the outbreak of fires at waste sites.
Another central point of dispute is the requirement for fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, across all sites.
According to the TRA, such systems are expensive to install and are not effective in extinguishing all fires under all circumstances.
In fact, it noted, in some circumstances tire fires may cause less detrimental impact by containing their spread and controlling their burn.
“Our objections come from the unfathomably illogical approach EA has taken to cobble together its current guidance,” said TRA secretary general Peter Taylor.
The new guidelines, he said would threat all sectors within the waste and recycling industry under and put jobs in jeopardy.