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Thermal radiation

Hazard Knowledge

This hazard should be read in conjunction with National Operational Guidance: Fires and firefighting - Fire and thermal radiation

The thermal radiation from waste fires can be intense. The type, quantity and storage method of waste affects the level of thermal radiation produced by the fire.

There is little research at this time on the heat flux values produced by different waste stack sizes and materials. However, at the time of producing this guidance, research is being undertaken on this topic, to assist with the waste industry recommended stack separation distance and firebreak methodology. Following the publication of the research findings, this guidance may require review.



Figure 1: Site showing stack separation - photograph courtesy of the Environment Agency

Thermal radiation has two key effects:

  1. It makes it difficult for firefighters to get close enough to effectively apply extinguishing media
  2. It can also cause firespread to other parts of the waste site, structures on or around the site and to vehicles, cylinders, fuel stores and other machinery