Fire Protection Barriers

04 Apr 2016

Having recently attended an Oil Tank fire, it still amazes us that not only do many modern looking fire protection barriers not reach OFTEC standards, often they are often completely missing!

If we spot regulation violations whilst driving past in a van, clearly Owners are blissfully unaware of the risks and financial implications.

 

Financial Implications

Although domestic oil tank fires are unlikely, your home insurance or landlord insurance could be completely invalidated by not having one fitted. Most home insurance policies have carefully worded clauses in relation to oil storage tanks, meaning that what you currently spend on insurance could be saved.  Without adequate fire protection, tank positioning and mounting, the chances of an insurance payout are, at best, liable to adjustment or at worst, ‘slim’.

In Dorset, malicious Oil Tank incineration is very rare, but in some areas of the UK it has become common place, resulting in a huge amount of damage to personal property and belongings.

The environmental clean-up costs of an oil tank fire could exceed the value of the house several times over, so if you save money by ignoring standards or by using a non-OFTEC registered installer, you could potentially loose everything. When dealing with building regulations and insurance companies, ignorance of regulations cannot be used as an excuse, therefore get advice before you start. Phone use now: 01305 262411

Cleaning up an Oil Tank Fire has to be carried out with guidance from the environmental protection agency, by specialists in hazardous waste disposal. The cost can quickly run above £100,000 and could contaminate land for years to come, preventing rebuild without extensive, time consuming and expensive excavation and demolition.

Questions and Answers

If you are getting a tank installed, make sure that your installer is OFTEC registered. If they aren’t, make sure you contact your local building control before proceeding. NB, their first recommendation will be to use an OFTEC registered installer.

Insist that the installer carefully explains the tanks position and if at all unsure, ask for a drawing showing the Oil Tanks position and fire protection barrier in relation to:

  • Doors, Windows, Vents and Air-bricks
  • Out buildings (e.g. Shed, Summer houses and Garages)
  • Fences, Foliage, Hedges, Trees etc
  • Oil fired appliances (Patio heaters, Barbecues, Flues etc)
  • Wells, Rivers and any other controlled water source (such as water pipe or sewage)

If you are having an Oil Tank replaced or upgraded, then you may be required to meet regulations that didn’t exist when the original was installed or to ones ignored by a previous contractor.

 

Tank location

Insurance companies require Oil Storage Tanks to comply with OFTEC fire separation distances. In addition, conditional and strict regulations state the distance from the tanker delivery point. Correctly situating a tank with adequate fire protection ensures that stored fuel is protected from fire and other heat sources. It also ensures increased safety to people and animals in nearby buildings.

It maybe that, even when replacing an existing tank, the desired position does not fail within current regulations and a new position needs to be found.

Tanks should be sited:

  • 180cm away from non-fire rated eaves of a building
  • 180cm away from a non-fire rated building or structure (e.g. garden sheds);
  • 180cm away from openings (such as doors or windows) in a fire rated building or structure (e.g. brick built house / garage)
  • 180cm away from oil fired appliance flue terminals
  • 76cm away from a non-fire rated boundary such as a wooden boundary fence;
  • 60cm away from screening (e.g. trellis and foliage) that does not form part of the boundary.

If any of the the above regulations cannot be met, then fire protection barriers (providing at least 30 minutes protection) should extend 300mm higher and wider of the tank at both ends.

Tanks sited near rivers, wells and other controlled water sources are required by insurance companies and local building control, to be ‘bunded’ (double skinned).

oil-tank-install-3

Storage Platforms

It is vital that your oil storage tank has an adequate base and support. This is important for environmental protection, safety and the tanks life span.

The base should be:

  • Adequate for the weight of the tank
  • Non-combustible, imperforate and level
  • Constructed of concrete, paving stones or stonework
  • Large enough to extend 300mm beyond all sides of the tank.
  • Not liable to subsidence or weakening, across all seasons

An oil tank needs suitable support, as without, it’s structure and integrity can be lost, leading to weakening and eventual failure. The loss of stored fuel could be an environmental disaster. It is important to consider that ground conditions can change drastically from season to season, or year to year.

Environmental Protection

Some installations must have what is known as a bund, which designed to minimise the risk of pollution.
Bunds are oil tight catch pits below the tank, which do not have a drain. They are constructed from non-combustible materials capable of holding the entire contents of a full tank plus 10%.

We sell integrally bunded plastic tanks, which are effectively a tank within a tank. All oil storage tanks over 2500 litres supplying a domestic dwelling should be bunded.

Tanks under 2500 litres should be bunded if the tank:

  • Is located within 10m of inland freshwaters or coastal waters
  • Is located where spillage could run into an open drain or to a loose fitting manhole cover
  • Is located within 50m of sources of potable water such as wells, bore holes or springs
  • Is located where oil spilled from the installation could reach the waters listed above by running across hard ground
  • Is located where tank vent pipe outlets cannot be seen from the intended filling point.

Any oil storage installation should carry a label in a prominent position giving advice on what to do if an oil spill occurs, together with the telephone number of the Environment Agency’s Emergency Hotline.

Registered OFTEC Technicians

Oil Storage Tank installations now need to comply with the latest regional Building Regulations

Building regulations

OFTEC registered technicians, such as Fourniers, can self certify their own work without the need to involve the Local Building Authorities and Building Control.

oftecIf you decide to use a person who isn’t registered OFTEC ‘competent’, then you will need to obtain a Building Control Notice and arrange for inspection. This process can be quite costly and time consuming; preventing other construction from progressing.

Useful Documents

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