Publication - Advice and guidance

Building Standards technical handbook 2017: non-domestic buildings

The Building Standards technical handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and are available in two volumes, Domestic buildings and Non-domestic buildings. This publication is available in html and also in PDF format (in 'supporting documents' ).

Building Standards technical handbook 2017: non-domestic buildings
3. Environment

3.23 Fuel storage – protection from fire

Mandatory Standard

Standard 3.23

Every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that

  1. an oil storage installation, incorporating oil storage tanks used solely to serve a fixed combustion appliance installation providing space heating or cooking facilities in a building, will inhibit fire from spreading to the tank and its contents from within, or beyond, the boundary

  2. a container for the storage of woody biomass fuel will inhibit fire from spreading to its contents from within or beyond the boundary.

Limitation:

This standard does not apply to portable containers.

3.23.0 Introduction

The guidance on oil relates only to its use solely where it serves a combustion appliance providing space heating or cooking facilities in a building. There is other legislation covering the storage of oils for other purposes. Heating oils comprise Class C2 oil (kerosene) or Class D oil (gas oil) as specified in BS 2869: 2006.

It is considered unlikely that a fire will originate from the stored oil. It is the purpose of this guidance therefore, to ensure that a fire that may originate from a building, or other external source, is not transferred to the tank contents, or if a fire does occur, its effects are limited.

The acceptance of climate change and the environmental policies put in place to mitigate its impact are pushing the commercial introduction of renewable energy technologies to displace the use of fossil fuels and the related combustion emissions of greenhouse gases. Woody biomass can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels and in some EU countries biomass fuel is the principal source of renewable energy for heating applications. The carbon dioxide emitted when biomass is burnt can be considered to be offset by the carbon dioxide absorbed as trees grow. Whilst this does not compensate for the energy used in processing the wood for fuel, the carbon dioxide emissions are considerably less than those of fossil fuels.

The use of woody biomass, in the form of wood chips, wood pellets and logs may offer a viable alternative to fossil fuels, particularly in areas not served by the gas grid, although the supply and distribution of chips and pellets is, as yet, poorly developed in Scotland.

Conversions - in the case of conversions, as specified in regulation 4, the building as converted shall meet the requirement of this standard (regulation 12, schedule 6).

3.23.1 Separation of oil tanks from buildings and boundaries

Every fixed oil tank with a capacity of more than 90 litres should be located at a distance from a building to reduce the risk of the fuel that is being stored from being ignited if there is a fire in the building. Some fire protection to, or for, the building is required if the oil tank is located close to the building. Further guidance may be obtained from OFTEC Technical Book 3.

Precautions should also be taken when an oil storage tank is located close to a boundary. The installation of a tank should not inhibit full development of a neighbouring plot.

Large tanks - an oil tank with a capacity of more than 3500 litres should be located in accordance with the recommendations in BS 5410: Part 2: 1978.

Small tanks - an oil tank with a capacity of not more than 3500 litres should be located in accordance with the following table:

Table 3.20. Location of oil storage tank not more than 3500 litres capacity

Location of tank Protection recommended
Building without openings Building with openings
Not more than 1.8m from any part of any building

non-combustible base; and any part of the eaves not more than 1.8m from the tank and extending 300mm beyond each side of the tank must be non-combustible and either:

  1. any part of a building not more than 1.8m from the tank should be of non-combustible construction type 7, short duration [2], or

  2. a barrier.

non-combustible base; and any part of the eaves not more than 1.8m from the tank and extending 300mm beyond each side of the tank must be non-combustible and

a barrier between the tank and any part of a building not more than 1.8m from the tank.

More than 1.8m from any building non-combustible base
Not more than 760mm from a boundary non-combustible base, and a barrier, or a wall with a non-combustible construction type 7, short duration [2]
More than 760mm from a boundary non-combustible base
Externally, wholly below ground no protection required

Additional information:

  1. BARRIER means an imperforate, non-combustible wall or screen at least 300mm higher and extending 300mm beyond either end of the tank, constructed so as to prevent the passage of direct radiated heat to the tank.

  2. See Section 2, Fire, annex 2.D.1.

3.23.2 Additional fire protection

The fuel feed system from the storage tank to the combustion appliance is also a potential hazard in the event of fire. The fire valve on the fuel feed, should be fitted in accordance with Section 8.3 of BS 5410: Part 1: 1997 and OFTEC Technical Book 3.

Oil pipelines located inside a building should be run in copper or steel pipe. The recommendations of Clause 8.2 of BS 5410: Part 1: 1997 should be followed.

Fire can also spread to an oil storage tank along the ground. Provision should therefore be made to prevent the tank becoming overgrown such as a solid, non-combustible base in full contact with the ground. A base of concrete at least 100mm thick or of paving slabs at least 42mm thick that extends at least 300mm beyond all sides of the tank would be appropriate. However, where the tank is within 1m of the boundary and not more than 300mm from a barrier or a wall of non-combustible construction type 7, short duration (see table to 2.B.1), the base need only extend as far as the barrier or wall.

3.23.3 Storage within a building

Where a storage tank is located inside a building, additional safety provisions should be made including the following:

  1. the place where the tank is installed should be treated as a place of special fire risk, and

  2. the space should be ventilated to the external air, and

  3. the space should have an outward opening door that can be easily opened without a key from the side approached by people making their escape, and

  4. there should be sufficient space for access to the tank and its mountings and fittings, and

  5. a catchpit as described in the guidance to Standard 3.24.

Guidance on protection from spillage is provided to Standard 3.24.

Further guidance may be obtained from OFTEC Technical Book 3 for garage installations.

3.23.4 Bulk storage of woody biomass fuel

By its very nature woody biomass fuel is highly combustible and precautions need to be taken to reduce the possibility of the stored fuel igniting. To ensure maximum energy from the fuel all storage arrangements should be designed to be damp free and improve or maintain the moisture content of the fuel.

To inhibit the spread of fire to their contents, bulk storage for wood fuels should be located in accordance with the following table:

Table 3.21. Bulk storage of woody biomass fuel

Location of container Protection recommended
External and not more than 1.8m from any part of any building

  1. any part of the building eaves not more than 1.8m from the container and extending 300mm beyond each side of the container must be non-combustible, and

  2. a barrier [1]

External not more than 1m from any boundary the container should be constructed to have medium fire resistance duration to its boundary walls
Within a building

  1. separated from the building with internal wall constructions providing medium fire resistance duration, type 5 [2] with any door to be outward opening to type 7 [2], and

  2. separated from the building with floor construction providing medium fire resistance duration, type 2 [2], and

  3. external walls constructed to type 8 [2] or type 9 [2], as appropriate


Additional information:

  1. BARRIER means an imperforate, non-combustible wall or screen at least 300mm higher than and extending 300mm beyond either end of the container constructed so as to prevent the passage of direct radiated heat.

  2. See Section 2, Fire, annex 2.D.1.

Wood pellets can be damaged during delivery thus producing dust that can cause an explosion and precautions need to be taken to reduce this risk. Once a year any dust that has collected in the store should be removed.

Storage containers for wood pellets, where they are to be pumped from a transporter to the container, should include a protective rubber mat over the wall to reduce the damage to the pellets when they hit the wall. Containers should have an outward opening door incorporating containment to prevent the pellets escaping when the door is opened.

To maintain fire proof storage and prevent back-burning, there should be an interruption to the fuel transport system normally by use of a star-feeder or chute for the fuel to fall into the boiler. The installation should be in accordance with the safety standards described in BS EN 303-5: 1999.

The woody biomass fuel should be stored separately from the boiler that the fuel feeds for fire safety reasons.