BlogMembersWISH issue revised Fire Safety Guidance for waste operators

WISH issue revised Fire Safety Guidance for waste operators

WISH issue revised Fire Safety Guidance for waste operators

New fire guidance has been issued for waste operators to give them advice on how best to prevent fires at their sites and how to reduce the impact of them should they occur.

WISH, the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum, has released a revised version of its 2014 Waste Fires Guidance following information gained from the results of the WISH fire tests over the past two years.

Geoff Smallwood, Chair of the WISH Waste Fires Working Group, said: “We acknowledged in the original guidance that some things were not based on specific waste industry data but at the time there was an urgent need to get some guidance out there, so the old guidance was published with the best information we had at that time. Now the fire tests have provided us data, so the new guidance is sector specific advice gleaned from actual results.

“The new guidance is good practical advice aimed at providing the industry with options, examples and tips on how to comply with the law,” he added.

The revised guidance was produced by the WISH Waste Fires Working Group with the involvement of other interested parties. It is supported by organisations including the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Geoff continued: “Key in this development of understanding has been the waste burn tests conducted throughout 2015 and 2016. To our knowledge these are the most extensive series of waste burn tests ever conducted. The results have led to many of the revisions in our new guidance.”

The main changes in the guidance involve stack sizes and separation distances, which WISH now advises should be a maximum of 4 meters high for both loose stack and baled materials, with a sliding-scale for separation distances between stacks based on stack length and configuration.

“Our advice on stack heights is based on practical firefighting abilities,” said Geoff. “We’d like to thank all those who took part in the tests leading us to this point, and to NFCC, the WRA (Wood Recyclers Association) and those ESA (Environmental Services Association) members who contributed to funding the tests, which to date have cost more than £170,000,” he added.

Geoff added that some sector specific bodies such as the WRA were currently working on their own FPP templates and WISH would be happy to signpost these from the guidance once they were published.

The revised guidance will be formally launched at a waste fires seminar hosted by CFOA’s (Chief Fire Officers Association) National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) at the National Fire College at Moreton-in-the-Marsh on 23 June 2017. However, the guidance is available in advance on the WISH web site at

A non-technical summary of the results of the waste burn tests is also available on the WISH web site as a support document to the revised guidance. Both documents are free to download for waste operators and any other interested parties.

The WISH forum is a multi-party group made up of organisations broadly representing the waste and recycling industry. WISH members include representatives from HSE, main trade associations, professional associations, trade unions, recycling organisations and national and local government bodies involved in waste management and recycling. Its purpose is to provide information, identify solutions and stimulate action across the industry to ensure the health, safety and well-being of those working in the industry and those affected by its activities.

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