Does Your Oil Tank Installation Need a Fire Screen?

oil tank with firescreen

Oil tanks are a popular, highly-efficient fuel storage solution for thousands of homes across the UK—and remain the go-to choice for domestic heating and cooking purposes. 

The overall practical benefits of oil tank ownership, however, are offset by a responsibility to ensure that any installation meets strict fire safety protocols. Owners need to make certain that their tank is positioned in a location that prevents it from becoming a fire hazard…should the worst happen.

Fire screen regulations

Despite what you might think, a fire screen is not designed to stop an oil tank fire from spreading to nearby buildings or boundaries—instead, it’s there to protect fires that have started from elsewhere around your oil tank that may be within a building or a neighbouring area.

If your tank supports a single-family dwelling, holds less than 3500 litres, and the oil within is used for heating and cooking, then it is considered a domestic oil storage tank. If you’re thinking of installing a domestic oil tank in your home, there are some key fire safety regulations you will need to consider.

  • Tanks must be placed at least 1.8m away from non-fire rated structures—such as garden sheds.

  • The tank must also be positioned 1.8m from the openings of a fire-rated building—such as doors or windows.

  • Your tank must be kept well clear—at least 1.8 metres—of the flues from oil-fired appliances.

  • Your tank must be at least 760mm away from any non-fire-rated fencing or boundaries

  • If you intend to screen your tank from view with a hedge or trellis that does not form part of the boundary fence, there must be at least 600mm between them.

Fire barriers

A popular alternative to installing your oil tank within 1.8 meters of a building—if you’re limited by the parameters of your outdoor space—is to use an external non-combustible fire barrier with at least 30 minutes of fire resistance. 

It’s important to remember that external fire barriers need to extend at least 300mm higher and wider than any contact point of the oil tank. The purpose of this is to make sure the barrier provides a blanket intersection between the tank and the building. The oil tank must also be positioned at least 300mm away from the barrier to permit access for inspection.

oil tank with wooden fence
oil tank with boundary fence

Fire-resistant tanks

Another method of ensuring you’re meeting fire safety standards is to install a fire-resistant tank. Under building regulations, domestic heating oil storage tanks need to be installed in an isolated location within strict fire separation distances from other structures. If you’re planning an installation, these guidelines can be somewhat restrictive, particularly if you’re looking to minimize the visual impact of your tank and its concrete or slab base in an outdoor space. 

A fire-resistant oil tank offers much more in the way of flexibility when it comes to installation. They can be positioned closer than normal to typical fire hazards than standard tanks. This provides more scope for you to hide your tank in a more discreet location—if you’re aiming to save outdoor space or keep manmade structures out of the field of vision. Despite these benefits, it's worth noting that fire-resistant tanks are not OFTEC-approved, so the installation works will need to be inspected by a local authority building control body directly before they are signed off.

How can CT Tanks help?

If you are looking to install a new steel oil tank or replace an old one, and you would like some expert advice on fire safety, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We’re always here to help.

Posted on May 17th 2022

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