Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) Fire Prevention Program (FPP) launched in January 2021.

EPA set up the FPP to respond to the high risk of fires at waste, recycling and resource recovery facilities.

Despite over 1000 EPA inspections since 2017, minor fires at waste and recycling sites continue. They happen on average once every three days. The FPP will drive sector wide prevention of fires at waste and resource recovery facilities by: 

  • delivering a significant program of inspections
  • using strong regulatory action to reduce the risk of fires and increase compliance with environmental legislation
  • driving improvements to fire prevention at waste and resource recovery facilities.
  • increasing compliance with the Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials) 2018 (WMP (CRWM) 2018) and licence requirements around the prevention fires.
  • enforcing a zero-tolerance approach to fire risk and non-compliance. This includes using notices and enforcement tools. 

EPA’s zero tolerance approach means that EPA can issue a notice when:

  • a risk is identified, or
  • you don’t have appropriate fire risk assessments and emergency management plans and
  • you can’t immediately rectify the risk in the presence of the EPA Officer.

Where significant non compliances are identified EPA will issue notices and investigate with a view to sanctioning.

How the Fire Prevention Program works

The FPP is a prevention-based program. It aims to reduce the number of fires at waste and resource recovery facilities in Victoria.

EPA has a zero-tolerance approach to unsafe waste practices. The FPP will support this approach by:

  • focusing on enforcement and action where practices are unsafe
  • working with industry, fire agencies, and co-regulators to improve the understanding of fire risk, and the controls required to prevent fires
  • delivering a significant program of inspections
  • issuing remedial notices and sanctions.

Fire prevention obligations for the waste and resource recovery sector

You must:

  • comply with waste management policies
  • comply with any licence conditions, if you are a licence holder
  • identify and control risks
  • have a fire management plan to put appropriate controls in place
  • immediately remedy any non-compliance and maintain compliance.

EPA expects all site operators to take reasonable steps to minimises risks of harm to human health and the environment.  Resources to help control risk:

Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials) 2018 (WMP (CRWM) 2018)

Management and Storage of Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials – Guideline (publication 1667.2)

Assessing and controlling risk: A guide for business. (Publication 1695) has more information on assessing and controlling risks on site.

Landfill licensing guidelines (publication 1323.3) has more information for landfill operators.

Licence assessment guidelines (publication 1321.2) has general guidance on risk assessments and complying with G5 conditions for licence holders.

About the review of the combustible recyclable waste management guideline

To support our preventative approach, EPA is reviewing the Combustible, recyclable and waste materials guideline (CRWM).

We will consult with industry to:

  • identify gaps in guidance
  • look at how we can better support industry to comply with waste management policies.

Report high fire risk waste and resource recovery sites

You can report waste management sites that you believe pose a high fire risk. Risk may include tightly packed, large or rapidly growing stockpiles, and poor onsite management practices at waste or resource recovery facilities.

Contact EPA on 1300 EPA VIC or contact@epa.vic.gov.au. We’re here 24/7.

Read more about managing combustible waste

How to manage combustible waste materials

Controlling e-waste hazards and risks

Reviewed 16 March 2021