Just like a conventional heating oil tank, fire rated oil tanks store heating oil in bulk quantities (1000L to 2440L). Our fire protected oil tank range is factory-fitted with a patented fire jacket offering 30 or 60 minute fire protection. This means our tanks can be installed adjacent to buildings and boundaries or even inside uninhabited domestic buildings such as a garage. Comparatively, ensuring compliance with building regulations and fire separation distances would otherwise mean that a conventional oil tank would need to be sited a minimum of 1.8m from a building and 760mm from boundaries. This is unworkable for many homeowners.

Tuffa’s fire resistant oil tanks are so unique and innovative that many oil-heated homeowners (and even some tank installers) aren’t aware of the practical solution to installing and replacing tanks located near buildings and boundaries. This isn’t surprising when you consider that we are the only manufacturer of both plastic and steel fireproof oil tanks.

We’ve made this expert guide to help oil-heated homeowners and heating engineers understand more about oil tank fire protection and exactly where a fire rated oil tank can be installed. Some of the topics covered include typical fire separation distances and alternative forms of compliance including integrally fire rated tanks and fire barriers, the type of fireproof oil tanks available, and regulations to which these tanks conform.

 

What is a fire rated oil tank?

A Tuffa fire rated oil tank is a bunded heating oil storage tank containing a flame-retardant material located between the bund and the inner tank. The integral fire barrier is available in 30 or 60 minute options and prevents the fuel within the tank from igniting during the specified time even if the tank is engulfed in flames.

A minimum of 30 minute fire protection is required to site a domestic oil tank adjacent to a building or boundary. A minimum of 60 minute fire protection is required to site a domestic oil tank inside an uninhabited building such as a garage. Typically, 60 minute fire protection is required to locate a heating oil tank adjacent to a commercial building.

Are fire protected oil tanks bunded?

Tuffa only manufactures fireproof oil tanks which are bunded. The fire-rated material is contained between the inner tank and bund while still having a capacity to hold a minimum of 110% of the inner tanks contents.

Why would I need a fire rated oil tank?

The flexibility to site a fireproof oil tank where conventional tanks cannot go means they have numerous advantages and uses for homeowners including:

  • Replacing existing oil tanks in locations which are no longer compliant
  • Installing oil tanks in locations where space is limited
  • ‘Hiding’ the tank next to buildings, sheds, boundaries or behind trellis
  • Preserving the layout and aesthetic of homeowners’ gardens
  • Avoiding building works
  • Installing the tank inside a garage where outside space isn’t suitable
  • Fuel theft prevention by installing the tank inside or hiding it from view by the roadside

Our fire rated oil tanks are also a firm favourite of commercial companies such as installers and housing developers who use our tanks to help guarantee compliance with any site or situation. Read the case studies below to see how our tanks are used by end users and commercial companies.

What types of oil tank fire barriers are available?

There are two main types of fire barrier for oil tanks. A fire barrier can either be integrally fit within the oil tank (like Tuffa’s fire rated oil tanks), or the fire barrier can be externally constructed from masonry or other approved materials.

Oil tank fire protection barriers
Oil tank fire barriers can be constructed externally from the tank to enable you to site a conventional oil tank within a closer proximity to structures. Fire barriers are built between the oil tank and a structure to protect the contents of the tank from fire. They can be constructed by a variety of approved materials including brick, stone, or fire rated panels.

An externally constructed oil tank fire barrier offers an alternative solution to an oil tank with a factory-fitted fire rated jacket. While an external fire barrier does allow an oil tank to be installed within the fire separation distances stated above, they are less practical than a fire rated oil tank. An oil tank fire barrier installation will usually require additional buildings works, a visit by a building inspector, requires additional space and is often considered an eye sore. To be compliant a fire barrier must:

  1. Extend at least 300mm higher and wider than any part of the oil tank
  2. Be installed at least 300mm away from the oil tank
  3. Completely interpose itself between the tank and any part of the structure

What types of fire rated oil tanks are available?

Within the fire rated tank category, there are two sub-types: plastic and steel.

Tuffa manufacture fire protected tanks in both plastic and steel. These systems contain an integrally fitted fire barrier and offer an alternative form of compliance when compared to an external oil tank fire barrier.

Plastic 
Our plastic fire rated oil tanks are available in capacities from 1150L (our most popular model) to 2440L. The tank is manufactured with a high shot weight of UV-stabilised and corrosion-resistant compound polymer which does not fade in colour. This creates an extremely durable tank with a 20-year minimum design life and a 10-year warranty when registered. Our plastic tanks are all bunded and offer a low-maintenance and cost-effective alternative to steel. This system has been tried and tested since 2005.

Steel
Our steel fire rated oil tanks are available in capacities from 1000L to 2300L. The tank is hand-fabricated with a high-grade mild steel. This makes our steel tanks strong and secure with a 30-year minimum design life and a 10-year warranty when registered. Our steel tanks are all bunded and offer greater longevity, impact-resistance and additional security against fuel theft when compared to plastic tanks. This system has been tried and tested since 2005.

Oil storage tanks with fire protection are popular with homeowners and businesses alike, including the below models:

Where can a conventional oil tank be installed?

Under building regulations, fire separation distances state minimum distances that a conventional (non-fire rated) oil tank can be installed from surrounding structures.

Fire separation distances

  • 1.8m away from a building or structure (e.g. a garage or shed)
  • 1.8m away from eaves of a building
  • 1.8m away from building openings (such as doors or windows)
  • 1.8m away from oil fired appliance flue terminals
  • 760mm away from a non-fire rated boundary such as a wooden fence
  • 600mm away from screening (e.g. trellis and foliage) that does not form part of the boundary

Where can fire rated tanks be installed?

Fire rated oil tanks can be installed as close as 300mm from structures including:

  • Buildings and structures (including windows, doors, eaves, a garage or shed)
  • A flue (provided heat doesn’t dispel onto the tank)
  • Boundaries (including a wooden fence)
  • Screening (including trellis and foliage)

We recommend these tanks are installed on a solid concrete base at least 100mm thick which extends at least 300mm around the tank’s perimeter. Please note, 600mm clearance is required where access to the tank is needed, e.g. at the front of the tank.

Illustration of a compliant fire rated oil tank installation

Can I install an oil tank internally?

Oil tanks can be installed within a garage or other uninhabited building located at a domestic property but requires a fully enclosed non-combustible fire-resistant chamber with 60 minute fire resistance. Our fire protected oil tanks are factory-fitted with an independently tested fully encompassing fire resistant material which offers 60 minute fire resistance. A Tuffa 60 minute fire resistance oil tank can be installed inside a domestic building provided that the tank:

  • Is installed in an uninhabitable area (e.g. a garage or outbuilding)
  • Is fitted with at least 60 minute fire protection
  • Has a secondary containment system (bund) which can hold 110% capacity of the primary tank. All our fire protected oil tanks are integrally bunded
  • Is installed at the lowest possible level in the building or structure
  • Is sited with at least a 300mm clearance separating the tank and other structures or barriers
  • Is sited with at least 600mm clearance where physical access is required (e.g. for filling the tank)
  • Is vented to the open air sufficiently to prevent stagnation, independently of any other part of the premises and preferably by natural means. Our fire protected oil tanks with 60 minute fire resistance are factory-fitted with a remote vent and remote fill connection points.

 

Illustration of a compliant internal oil tank installation
Illustration of a compliant conventional oil tank installation
An illustration of a compliant conventional oil tank with external fire barrier

Who can install and certify a fire rated oil tank?

Competent Persons Scheme

The Competent Persons Scheme was introduced by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) to enable Competent Persons to self-certify certain types of building work. This means technicians within Competent Persons Schemes such as the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) can fit and certify the oil tank without prior approval from building control. For the installer this means:

  • In the majority of cases, you don’t have to use a local council or approved building inspector to check your work
  • Without the need for building control fees your customers benefit from lower prices
  • The installation must be certified for it to comply with Local Authority Building Control

Building Control

Oil tanks, including fire protected oil tanks, can also be certified by either local authority building control or private building control.

Tuffa have partnered with approved inspectors, Stroma (previously known as JHAI), and developed a simple process that Stroma can self-certify, often remotely. Read more in our guide to FirePro tank sign-off.

What are the base requirements for a fire rated oil tank?

Fire rated oil tanks require the same base as a conventional oil tank; a solid, non-combustible base that extends at least 300mm beyond the perimeter of the entire tank. The thickness of the base depends upon the material used:

  • Concrete at least 100mm thick
  • Paving stones at least 50mm thick and positioned close to each other on level ground
  • Stonework or other non-combustible load-bearing material at least 50mm thick

What if my oil tank is installed on piers?

Oil tanks manufactured in steel can be sited on piers running perpendicular from the tank. Raising anoil tank has the benefit of allowing air to flow around the bottom of the tank which can help to prevent condensation and corrosion. It also makes visual inspection beneath the tank possible.

Installing an oil tank on piers is often a preferred option for oil boilers which are gravity-fed from the tank. Note, Tuffa’s steel tanks are manufactured with steel runners which enables airflow around the bottom of the tank without the need for piers.

Conducting a site-specific risk assessment

A site-specific risk assessment should always be conducted by the Competent Person installing the tank or a building inspector before carrying out any installation. We strongly recommend that a site-specific risk assessment is conducted before purchasing a fire protected oil tank.

For detailed installation guidance please see our installation guide.

Oil tank fire regulations

Under Building Regulations (Document J, Section 5, p.63.) conventional heating oil storage tanks are required to be installed in an isolated location. Strict ‘fire separation distances’ ensure a minimum distance from other structures. Contrary to popular belief, it’s very unlikely that the fire will originate in the stored liquid fuel. The tank’s isolation is actually to protect the contents of the oil tank from a fire originating from a building or other external source and then transmitting to the tank.

What regulations and standards do Tuffa’s fireproof oil tanks meet?

Tuffa’s fireproof tanks comply with UK-wide Oil Storage Regulations and British Standards for plastic and steel oil tanks. Due to British Standard updates in 2019 (BS 5410‑1 8.5) oil tanks require a minimum distance of 300mm separating the tank from buildings or other boundaries. This is to accommodate space to visually inspect the tank’s exposed surfaces. Additionally, where access to the tank is needed, e.g. for filling with oil, then at least 600mm access is required.

Our integrally fire rated system has received further independent testing to investigate the robustness of the fire-retardant material. Our Declaration of Conformity certifies and warrants that the Tuffa Fire Protected liquid fuel storage tank systems are in compliance with the Directives, standards, and other normative documents listed below:

  • BSEN 13341:2005+A1:2011
  • BS 476 Part 4:1970
  • BS 476 Part 20:1987
  • BS 476 Part 22:1987

Oil Storage Regulations by Country

Regulations can vary by Country:

  • Oil Storage Regulations England: to find out more about the oil storage tank regulations for England please visit www.gov.uk
  • Oil Storage Regulatations Scotland; to find out more about the oil storage tank regulations for Scotland please visit www.sepa.org.uk
  • Oil Storage Regulations Wales: to find out more about the oil storage tank regulations for England please visit www.gov.wales
  • Oil Storage Regulations Northern Ireland: to find out more about the oil storage tank regulations for Ireland please visit www.daera-ni.gov.uk

We hope that you found this guide useful but if you still require further advice or a quotation please submit an enquiry or give us a call on 01889 567700.