UNIVERSITY OF BRIGHTON
CODE OF PRACTICE FOR FIRE SAFETY WHEN HANDLING WASTE
Every year there are some 160 000 fires involving waste materials. Many of
these are started deliberately.
The fires, which may involve piles of rubbish, open skips or wheeled waste
containers, can develop rapidly, especially as some types of plastic waste
containers ignite easily and burn vigorously.
The flames may enter buildings though windows, eaves and lightweight wall
claddings. The result is often a serious fire involving loss of property, loss of
jobs and inconvenience to the community. The fires may even threaten the
lives of staff, members of the public or fire-fighters.
This code of practice outlines simple measures that may be taken to reduce
the incidence of fires involving skips, wheeled waste containers and piles of
Remember: Under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 you
have a duty of care to take all reasonable steps to keep waste safe.
Ensure that skips, wheeled waste containers and piles of waste
Do not obstruct escape routes
Do not obstruct access to fire hydrants
Are not sited in fire brigade access routes
Make sure all rubbish is placed in the containers or designated areas
provided and is not left on the ground nearby
Obtain specialist advice regarding the disposal of asbestos, other toxic
substances and biohazards. Do not dispose of them with other waste
Do not put aerosol cans, flammable liquid containers or gas cylinders,
even when empty, into skips or wheeled waste containers. Keep them
separate from other discarded items and seek advice from your local
Do not put hot ashes, cigarette ends or other smokers’ materials into
skips or wheeled waste containers.
Do not dispose of the contents of ashtrays with papers and other
Give staff instruction in basic fire prevention and the action to take in
the event of the fire.
If skips or wheeled waste containers are permanently on site, or there
is a designated compound for waste materials, provide a hose reel or
two water-type fire extinguishers, protected from the effects of frost,
Never light fires in or near skips or waste bins. Where possible prohibit
the burning of combustible waste.
Fire safety and waste skips
Wherever possible site skips at least 10 m from buildings and plant
Always use an enclosed skip rather than an open skip for combustible
Lock the doors or lid of the skip when the premises are not occupied
If a skip is regularly on site, paint lines on the ground to indicate where
it should be located.
Ensure that skips are delivers to the designated area
Arrange for skips to be collected as soon as they are full or ready for
Power to compactors should be turned off when the premises are
Do not locate skips under canopies or trees
Do not carry out welding work on full or partly full skips.
Fire safety and wheeled waste bins
Use metal bins with lockable lids where possible and locate them in
marked areas at least 6 m away from buildings and plant
If plastic containers have to be used they should be sited at least 10 m
way from buildings and plant
Chain or secure wheeled containers in designated positions when the
premises are unoccupied
Arrange for bins to be emptied regularly
Fire safety and combustible rubbish
Dispose of all rubbish in waste containers or skips if they are provided
If your business regularly has large amounts of combustible waste, hire
an enclosed skip or a wheeled waste container, with a lockable lid.
Have the skip or container removed or exchanged regularly.
Do not store loose combustible waste within 2m of the perimeter fence
or within 6 m of a building or plant
If possible, recycle waste materials such as pallets and cardboard
To reduce the incidence of arson store combustible waste in a secure, well lit
Phil Thompson MIFireE
Fire Safety Advisor