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Focus on… Waste Site Fires

Focus on… Waste Site Fires

UK fire and rescue services attend around 300 significant fires in waste sites in the UK each year.  Fires of this nature can be large, difficult to fight and are very demanding of resources. A fire in a waste site can have serious implications for both the public and business operator – as well as for those involved in the emergency services, fighting the fires.  

As well as the implications for public health in both local communities and responders, there are environmental impacts and the potential for damage and disruption, leading to the potential for large scale financial losses.    Fires of this kind occur in both properly licenced site which are properly managed as well as illegal sites so this is not an issue which is confined to those sites operating on an un-licenced basis.

As specialist insurers for the waste and recycling industry we would advise that, by far the best way of mitigating the potential losses of a waste site fire is by avoiding one!  

The WISH (Waste Industry Safety and Health) Forum have produced a useful operation guidance documentation reducing fire risks at waste management sites which applies to ‘sites where more than 50 cubic metres of solid combustible waste material is stored at any one time’ although the principles in this document will still apply to smaller sites and their advice is to consider the guidance for sites below 50 cubic metres, if they ‘pose significant risks to human health and/or the environment in the event of a fire’ -  The document is full of information and advice for operators and aims to provide information to;

  • Reduce the likelihood and frequency of fires at solid waste management sites.   
  • Where fires do occur, reduce the potential safety, health, environmental, property damage and business interruption impacts

As with all types of business risk, prevention is the best form of protection against loss, we would say that adequate insurance is the probably next best!    

During the last 5 years, a number of insurers have stopped offering cover to the waste industry, following a number of high profile fires and this has made cover for Property Insurance at business locations increasingly difficult to arrange with many insurers now choosing to apply minimum premiums which may be out of reach of small to medium sized waste businesses. 

Insurance cover for the waste industry is a complicated business which requires specialist insurance and there are a number of factors which need to be considered when assessing the appropriate level of cover.  We would recommend getting the help of a surveyor to asses the cost of insuring the actual bricks and mortar and carefully considering the extent of cover required for plant and machinery.  It is likely that an insurance company will want to inspect the premises before insurance commences to look at measures which are in place to manage and actively reduce the risk of losses due to fire.

As specialist insurers to the industry GM Insurance Brokers are still able to offer cover for buildings and fixed plant at Recycling centres with a number of A Rated Insurers via Lloyds of London.   Get in touch with us for more information on our insurance for waste sites.

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