Fire Safety

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Home Heating Oil Tanks: Safety and Clearance Distances

Heating Oil Tanks can’t be sited just anywhere or installed by simply anyone. Building Standards and fire safety regulations exist, which contain detailed requirements which must be adhered to when installing any tank. Failure to comply with these requirements, may jeopardise any warranty supplied with your tank and may void your home insurance cover.

A Fire Safety and Environmental Risk Assessment must always be undertaken before installing any Heating Oil Tank by a suitably competent person e.g. a Technician registered with The Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC).

Fire Clearance Distances

Whilst a Heating Oil Tank is unlikely to ever set itself alight, consistent with Building Regulations and British Standard BS 5410, Home Heating Oil Tanks do require protection from fires which may start in an adjacent structure. To reduce the risk, strict clearance distances have been determined between Domestic Heating Oil Tanks and adjacent structures. A Domestic Heating Oil Tank is defined as a situated at a dwelling occupied by a single family and with a capacity less than 3,500 litres. These clearance distances are sumarised below:

Table 1 Summary of Minimum Separation Distances for Domestic Heating Oil Tanks installed at Single Family Dwellings and with a capacity of less than 3,500 litres

Adjacent Structure

Distance mm 

Distance inches

Non-fire rated eaves of a building

1800mm

6’

Non-fire rated structure e.g. shed

1800mm

6’

Opening (e.g. doors and windows) in a fire rated structure

1800mm

6’

Oil boiler flues

1800mm

6’

Non-fire rated boundary

760mm

2’ 6”

Foliage and vegetation

600mm

2’

Non-boundary fences

600mm

2’

Where these separation distances cannot be achieved, it will be necessary to either install a fireproof barrier or relocate your tank to a more suitable area. Your storage tank technician will be able to provide further advice and guidance.

Back to Bases

Like most things in life, to realise their potential, Heating Oil Tanks need a firm foundation. Failure to base a tank correctly can cause irreparable damage, resulting in premature product failure and an environmental pollution incident. It may also void any warranty supplied with the tank.

Plastic Heating Oil Tanks should be positioned on to a level, non-combustible base capable of supporting the weight of the tank when fully laden – remembering that a typical 2,500 litres Bunded Plastic Heating Oil Tank could weigh up to 2.5 tonnes when full of fuel. The base should also ordinarily extend a minimum of 300mm beyond the widest points of the tank and fully support the underside of the tank in its entirety. Piers and sleepers are wholly unsuited for this purpose.

Detailed base construction requirements exist for Steel Tanks too. These will vary according to the design of the tank, but all base materials must be manufactured from non-combustible materials. Some Steel Heating Oil Tanks will require piers to be built to raise the underside of the tank off the ground. Other steel tanks are supplied complete with pre-fabricated ‘feet’ and are suitable for installation at ground level.

Your local storage tank technician will be available to provide further guidance on base requirements for your tank.  

LPG Clearance Distances

Special care must be taken when installing Heating Oil Tanks close to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage facilities. The separation distance between Bulk LPG Tanks and Heating Oil Tanks is given in UK LPG Code of Practice 1 Part 1 Table 2. Storage Tanks containing up to 3,000 litres of Heating Oil having a flash point of 65 °C or less (e.g. Kerosene) and should be positioned at least 3 metres (9’ 11”) from LPG Tanks with an installed storage capacity of up to 60 tonnes.

For LPG Tanks with an installed capacity greater than 60 tonnes, or for oil storage installations with a capacity greater than 3,000 litres, professional advice must always be taken.

Always Take Expert Advice

Prior to the installation of any Heating Oil Tank, a Risk Assessment must always be completed to understand the risk of fire spreading from an adjacent structure to the tank. This must be completed by an independently trained and accredited technician e.g. an APHC or OFTEC Registered Technician. The completed Risk Assessment must be recorded and retained. To find a local technician, visit the OFTEC website.

Whilst Fuel Tank Store does not provide site assessment services, our Customer Support Team can provide general guidance and advice. You can call us in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man on 01789 632 151 and in the Republic of Ireland, you can call 01 5268 642. Alternatively, you can e-mail hello@fueltank.store. We’re open from 9am to 5pm weekdays - excluding Bank and Public Holidays.