Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Fire is a serious risk to the environment. You should always try to reduce the risk of fire and the damage that fire and firefighting could cause.
To prevent pollution from firefighting you should:
Most firefighting foams for Class B fires, including all film forming foams, contain fluorinated chemicals which are highly polluting if released into the environment. Class B fires include those fires involving flammable liquids like fuel.
Perfluorooctanesulphonate (PFOS), a fluorinated chemical additive that was used in some Class B aqueous film forming foam, is classed as a persistent organic pollutant (POP). The marketing and use of PFOS and PFOS-related substances is now banned in the European Union. You must not keep or use foams containing PFOS or PFOS-related substances. Contact your supplier to find safe disposal options.
You can use firefighting foams containing different fluorinated chemicals, including fluoroprotein and film forming fluoroprotein foams.
You must dispose of firefighting foams containing PFOS or PFOS-related substances and fluorinated chemicals correctly. It is good practice to return them to the manufacturer or contact your supplier to arrange disposal by high temperature incineration.
When you test fire extinguishers or carry out firefighting exercises you must not allow used foams to enter drains, surface waters or groundwater. You must contain them for disposal off site or you may be able to get approval from your water or sewerage company to discharge foam into the public foul sewer.
Firewater is polluting and you may need to deal with it as hazardous waste.
You must not discharge firewater into the environment. Ensure you have a plan and equipment in place to collect or contain it in the event of an emergency.
Store firewater correctly and ensure that it is treated and disposed of by a permitted or licensed waste management business. You may also be able to get permission from your water or sewerage company to discharge it into the foul sewer.
To prevent firewater from running into surface drains, polluting nearby waterways (rivers, streams and groundwater), foul drainage systems, and land, you should:
HSE: Secondary containment for major spills and firewater
UK wide pollution hotline: 0800 80 70 60
Prevent pollution from firefighting
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A day with Hydrology, SEPA's hydrometry unit is responsible for around 400 gauging stations and 350 rainfall monitoring sites. River gauging stations are important as they allow river levels to be monitored so flood events can be predicted and flood warnings sent out.
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