Ways to reduce skip fire risk
The arrival of a mini heatwave, in London and south-east England at least, during mid-July highlights the potential risk of fire breaking out in the skip you’ve hired.
Skip fires are a rare occurrence and are more common around the time of Bonfire Night in November.
However, they remain an ever-present risk - particularly when outside temperatures rise above 30C.
Aside from it being an annoyance to your neighbours, a skip fire poses a real danger to surrounding property and can also end up being very costly.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent skip fires.
First, never use a skip to burn any waste, such as wooden pallets or paper. If the skip becomes damaged due to the heat generated by a fire, the hire firms that are part of the Proskips network will be within their rights to charge for the repair or replacement of the skip.
It's also worth bearing in mind that if the skip is on a public road, the excessive heat caused be a fire will melt the tarmac of the road surface underneath. If this happens, your local authority will most likely want to charge you for the damage and may even consider a prosecution.
If the skip is placed on your own property, it's wise to make sure that it is far enough away from your house or office to ensure that the flames and heat from a fire don't pose a threat to nearby buildings.
Large fires generate huge temperatures so try and bear this in mind when you're deciding the final location of the skip. This is why it is advisable not to place it under trees or bushes that can cause a skip fire to spread.
Placing a skip in an area that gives the emergency services easy access to a blaze can help reduce the amount of damage caused and prevent it spreading to neighbouring properties. This can be achieved by choosing a site for the skip that is at least 3m from any building.
In warm weather, skip fires can start accidentally when dry waste is ignited by something as simple as a discarded cigarette. Putting flammable materials, such as gas cylinders, aerosols and half-filled tins of paint, is not only prohibited because of environmental regulations, they increase the risk of accidental fires spreading.
It is also worth bearing in mind that other restricted items include materials that are highly toxic when set alight, such as asbestos and car tyres.
Finally, it is advisable to arrange for skips to be collected as quickly as possible when full. This reduces the risk of accidental fires starting by giving the waste material less chance to dry out.
Skip fire prevention checklist
- Don't burn any waste material in a skip
- Place the skip at least 5 metres from the nearest building.
- Never place flammable materials in a skip
- Seek professional advice when disposing of hazardous waste or biowaste
- Arrange for skips to be collected as quickly as possible when full
- Don't place skips under trees and keep them away from glass or other flammable structures