Integrally fire rated tanks – frequently asked questions

Every oil tank installer knows that finding a suitable location for an oil tank can be challenging. On the one hand, technicians need to ensure the tank installation complies with regional building regulations, and on the other hand, clients often want their oil tank installed in a location that would not be compliant unless a fire protection barrier is constructed to protect the tank and its contents. Surprise, surprise – the client does not want a fire protection barrier installed either!

For this reason, technicians and homeowners sometimes investigate the possibility of installing an integrally fire-rated tank, hoping this will provide a solution to the age-old argument of compliance versus customer preference.

What is OFTEC’s position on the use of integrally fire-rated tanks? OFTEC requires technicians (or their client) to contact their Local Authority Building Control Body* (BCB) and carry out the work under a building notice. At completion, the BCB will issue a building regulations compliance certificate if they believe the work to be compliant.

Why is this the case? Guidance on the installation of oil tanks can be found in building regulations approved documents and BS 5410. In these documents you will find familiar guidance, such as the need for tanks to be sited a minimum separation distance from non-fire rated buildings, openings in buildings and legal boundaries. If these separation distances cannot be met, these documents describe the type and size of fire protection barrier needed to protect the tank and adjacent buildings. Technicians who follow this guidance benefit from ‘a presumption of compliance with building regulations’. When you notify the installation via OFTEC’s works notification system, OFTEC updates the BCB database and provides your client with a certificate of Building Regulations compliance. OFTEC can confidently issue this certificate as you have followed written guidance.

It is important to note that within building regulations approved documents and BS 5410, no reference at all is made to the use of integrally fire-rated tanks, either as an alternative to minimum separation distances or an alternative to the construction of a suitably sized fire protection barrier. For this reason, a technician cannot presume that they have met the requirements of building regulations by installing such a tank alone. Technicians must involve their BCB prior to installing an integrally fire-rated tank, as the BCB will need to confirm that the use of such a product would, in their opinion, comply with building regulations.

What about products with “LABC Assured” certification? An integrally fire-rated tank may be listed on the LABC Assured scheme (previously called LABC registered detail scheme). Does certification under this scheme remove the need to have the installation of an integrally fire-rated tank supervised by BCB? No.

The LABC Assured scheme exists to assist a product being accepted by a BCB but does not guarantee that it will be accepted. In simple terms, it is a database of products that assists BCB in making an informed decision on the suitability of a product or system. When a product has LABC Assured certification it removes the need for a BCB to carry out a full evaluation of the product, as this has already been undertaken and relevant details will be included in the product certificate.

This information helps a BCB to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether an integrally fire-rated tank is a suitable alternative approach and would meet the requirements of building regulations. In some cases, a BCB may be happy to approve the use of such a tank, but in some cases they may not.

In summary…
OFTEC registered technicians cannot presume that the use of an integrally fire-rated tank alone will meet the requirements of the building regulations. Technicians wishing to install such a tank must do so under a building notice, so that the BCB can decide whether this alternative approach meets the requirements of the building regulations. Technicians must not self-certify integrally fire rated tanks via OFTEC’s works notification system.

* An alternative to using BCB is to use an independent approved inspector.