OFTEC has issued advice to householders following an oil tank fire in the early hours of Monday morning.
The blaze caused extensive damage to three houses in Dunmurry and the organisation which represents the domestic oil heating and cooking industry in Northern Ireland has urged caution.
With nearly 70% of households in Northern Ireland using oil as their main heating source, OFTEC is warning householders to ensure fire safety is given due consideration when it comes to installing and protecting oil tanks.
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) is currently investigating the fire that is believed to have started in a shed before spreading to an oil tank which ruptured, setting fire to other oil tanks in the near vicinity.
David Blevings, OFTEC said: “Oil tank fires have the potential to be extremely dangerous and, as sadly highlighted in this case, to substantially damage properties. Oil is a very safe fuel if stored correctly and the best way to protect yourself and others is to make sure your oil tank and any fuel burning appliances are inspected and serviced by an OFTEC registered technician at least once a year.”
“During a service, an OTFEC technician will look your tank to ensure has been installed to meet local building regulation standards. If the recommended separation distances cannot be met, building control will require the placement of a fire safety panel(s) that provide a minimum 30 minute fire-resistant wall which extends at least 300mm above and beyond the ends of an oil tank. Should fire occur, the fitting of a fire panel can be instrumental in halting its spread of your property and beyond. Last night’s fire highlights the very real threat of unprotected oil tanks and we are strongly urging householders to review the positioning of their oil tank and if necessary, to take action.”
As well as the human risk, an unprotected oil tank can cause substantial damage to property if set alight. Government statistics estimate the average cost of damage caused by a house fire is £25,000.
To avoid the risks, OFTEC advises that householders should have their oil tank and fittings inspected by a suitably-qualified competent person at least once a year to check for leaks, damage or defects.
For your nearest OFTEC registered technician go to http://www.oftec.org.uk/Consumers/FindTechnician