Fire Prevention Plans: Waste Management

Fire Prevention Plans: Waste Management

Preventing fires at waste processing facilities is essential to protect property, human life and business reputation. Because of this, an Environment Agency approved Fire Prevention Plan is a must if you work with combustible materials.

Writing a fire prevention plan is more in-depth than a basic fire risk assessment for your premises, as you must take into account special measures to avoid the accidental ignition of combustible materials, as well as any fire protection equipment you need to have on-site.

Fire prevention plans are a precursor to obtaining an environmental permit to process combustible waste. Without an approved fire prevention plan, the UK environmental agency is unlikely to give you permission to commence operations at your site.

Do I need a Fire Prevention Plan?

If you operate a waste processing or recycling facility that handles combustible waste, it is likely that you will need a Fire Prevention Plan.

There are several reasons why you should make sure you have an EA-approved fire prevention plan in place:

  • It’s a legal requirement.
  • You usually won’t be granted a permit without one.
  • It helps mitigate fire risks.
  • It protects operators against severe punishment.
  • It allows you to train staff and contractors on fire responsiveness.

Fire prevention plans are mandatory if you handle combustible waste materials such as paper, plastics, fabric, biomass, oily or plastic-coated metals, rubber, wood, some waste electrical and electronic devices, and several more specific categories too.

Ignition Risks in a Fire Prevention Plan

An important part of a Fire Prevention Plan is identifying any potential risks of ignition of combustible materials on your site.

These can be:

  • Chemical e.g. reactions between different types of waste.
  • Electrical e.g. electrical faults and exposed wiring.
  • Human e.g. legitimate staff activity or malicious acts like arson.
  • Material e.g. corrosive substances, oils and fuels.
  • Mechanical e.g. hot equipment, exhausts and so on.

The first priority of a fire prevention plan should be to prevent fires from starting at all. If a fire breaks out, the plan should also include clear instructions to stop it from spreading and to extinguish it as quickly as possible.

In some cases, there can be specific demands associated with certain types of waste, which a competent TCM should take into account.

Punishment for not having a Fire Prevention Plan

The penalty for not having a Fire Prevention Plan can be severe, especially if a fire breaks out and causes harm to people or property.

For a start, the Environment Agency usually requires you to submit your fire prevention plan at the same time as your permit application – so if your fire prevention plan is not approved, it is likely that you are operating without a permit too.

If an incident occurs, such as the accidental ignition of combustible materials, you could face court action and penalties of up to two years in prison and unlimited fines.

Fires at recycling facilities and waste processing plants very quickly grow out of control, taking a long time and significant emergency services resources to extinguish.

A fire prevention plan is a step towards preventing and containing them more effectively, which in turn protects your personnel, your business interests and your local environment.

How Recycling Training Services can help

We work with waste processing facilities and recycling facilities to write fire prevention plans that meet all the criteria required by the UK Environment Agency.

Fire prevention plans must meet three main objectives:

  • To prevent fires starting.
  • To reduce fires spreading.
  • To extinguish fires faster.

However, the Environment Agency guide to writing a fire prevention plan has 19 steps, which highlights how much more complex this task is than it might first appear.

We have worked with waste processing and recycling facilities across England and Wales to create fire prevention plans that meet the complex criteria – not only protecting premises against fire risks, but also protecting their operators against unlimited fines and prison time.

Frequently asked questions

Who needs a fire prevention plan?

Certain businesses must have a fire prevention plan approved by the Environment Agency. This includes all waste management facilities and recycling facilities in England and Wales.

This is in addition to the ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment that is required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for all commercial buildings, non-domestic premises and multi-occupancy properties.

What is the purpose of a fire prevention plan?

In order to be approved by the Environment Agency, a fire prevention plan must meet three main objectives:

  • Minimise the risk of a fire starting.
  • Increase the chance to extinguish fires within four hours.
  • Reduce the spread of fires within your premises and to neighbours.

The Environment Agency publishes a 19-step guide to fire prevention plans, which we are qualified and experienced to help you complete successfully.

You may also qualify for an exemption from the four-hour target to extinguish fires, for example if you can show that a longer blaze would not put lives or property at risk.

What happens if my company doesn’t have a fire prevention plan?

If you do not have an approved fire prevention plan in place, you may be considered responsible in the event of accidental ignition of combustible materials.

The punishment for this includes an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison, especially if the fire causes considerable damage, spread to neighbouring premises or causes harm to life.

Remember your fire prevention plan must be approved by the relevant UK environmental agency – just writing a plan without getting it approved is not good enough.

How do I get my fire prevention plan approved?

We can help you make sure your fire prevention plan is considered ‘sufficient’ by the Environment Agency.

To do this, we help you to follow their 19-step plan to assess your premises, identify fire risks and introduce measures that prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials.

You should send your fire prevention plan to the Environment Agency at the same time you apply for your permit to conduct waste operations that involve combustible waste.

With Recycling Training Services’ help, you can make sure you’re ready to do this, with a sufficient fire prevention plan that gives you the best chance of being authorised by the UK environmental agency.

What We Do

Recycling Training Services provide comprehensive training on fire prevention plans for a variety of different sectors. We can help you set up a secure fire safety plan for your business. 

You can call us on 07710 200 333, email us at or follow us on all the main social media platforms for regular news and updates about our services.

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