Covering all the bases with a Tuffa fire pro

After spending 20 years working his way through every role within the petroleum industry, Andrew West founded Fuel Storage Systems Ltd, a fuel tank maintenance and installation specialists. The Yorkshire based company work with a range of industries from retail petrol stations, marinas, aviation, rail and commercial properties across the UK. Fuel Storage Systems has built a strong reputation within the public sector throughout the COVID-19 crisis by installing backup diesel generators for the MOD and NHS.

As well as keeping the country’s cogs oiled during lockdown, Fuel Storage Systems have helped to ensure we have places left to visit once we reach step 2 and 3 of the lockdown roadmap. On a routine safety inspection at The Plough, a popular pub and restaurant in Shrewsbury, a 1,500 litre single skin oil tank was flagged by the facilities management company as being incompliant so Fuel Storage Systems was swiftly called in. Andrew West explains what a typical phone call with a facilities management company entails:

“When working with facilities management to replace an oil tank you often don’t get much information about the job, yet bringing the installation in line with modern regulations quickly and safely is key. In these circumstances we always purchase Tuffa’s Fire Protected Oil Tanks; they cover all the bases and are almost guaranteed to comply with any site no matter how restricted.”

Upon closer inspection, the oil tank was covered in foliage and in very close proximity to the busy restaurant and an adjacent woodshed. According to British Standards 5410-2, heating oil tanks of this capacity at a commercial site must be installed a minimum of 2 meters from buildings, eaves, flues, and a minimum distance of 600mm distance from foliage. These fire separation distances are strictly enforced to reduce the risk of fire spreading from the surrounding area to the tank’s contents.

Not only was the installation in violation of fire separation distances but the tank itself was in very poor condition ‘weeping’ oil from several places where rust and age had affected the integrity of the tank. Oil tanks located at a commercial site with a capacity to store over 200 must have a secondary containment system (a bund) to capture oil leaks and spills. With a storage capacity 7.5 times higher than the legal limit and with no bund to capture oil leaks from the primary tank, the Plough’s single skin tank posed a significant threat to the environment and business. Left unchecked it is likely the weep would have turned into a leak which could spill into the pub’s foundations. Clean-up operations for commercial premises can be in hundreds of thousands and questions over the tank’s compliance means it is unlikely to be covered by insurance.

Andrew West explained that British Standards have become stricter throughout the decades and oil tank installations that were compliant 20 years ago would no longer be certified. However, in his opinion, it is unlikely that the restaurant’s oil tank was ever installed by a Competent Person and signed off as compliant as it clearly posed a serious risk to the safety of the restaurant, the building’s inhabitants and the wider environment.

Equipped with Tuffa’s bunded 1100 litre Fire Protected Heating Oil Tank Fuel Storage Systems set about making the installation safe and compliant. In commercial properties, a 60 minute fire rated barrier is required to site the tank as close as 300mm from a boundary. The only alternative to site the tank in the same location would have been to install a conventional oil tank surrounded by fire boards which divide the tank from boundaries. Andrew explained that, while the cost difference between the two options was negligible, fire protected oil tanks had the advantage from a cosmetic perspective and provide a much quicker and simpler installation.

Fuel Storage Systems drained the old tank and removed it ready for disposal. Although the new tank could have been installed directly onto the existing concrete, the diligent installers constructed an additional base using a wooden mould to set a further 100mm of concrete reinforced with steel wire. As Andrew reasoned, it made twice the thickness that regulations strictly require, however, for the additional cost of half an hour, a few bags of concrete and steel wire it’s worth the extra resources to ensure the integrity of the base.

As Tuffa’s Fire Protected Oil Tanks come with the fire-rated material integrally fitted within the bund, no more construction work was required and once sited the tank was fitted with a new oil line. For Fuel Storage Systems, the ingenuity of our unique tank range simplifies an otherwise complicated installation and means they can provide the end-users with a safe, compliant and reliable oil tank with little prior knowledge about the job.

For more information about our Fire Protected Oil Tanks and domestic or non-commercial applications of the system check out our Expert Guide to Fire Rated Oil Tanks. For a quote call 01889 567700, email [email protected] or complete the enquiry form below.

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