Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Inspection of fire safety at Heysham 1 Power Station

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

I conducted an inspection of fire safety at Heysham 1 Power Station that focused on the themes of fire safety management and practical fire safety provision. My inspection primarily concentrated on the practical application of the general fire precautions during an outage period. I completed a tour of the selected facilities before concluding with a final meeting with the Quality Management Group Head. I have reported on my findings within the body of my report in section 2 below.

Generally the fire safety arrangements were good.

Purpose of Intervention

The purpose of the planned inspection was to ensure that the Licensee was complying with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The inspection focused on the practical fire safety provision during the outage of one of the sites two reactors (Unit 1) and all associated equipment. Particular emphasis was given to the Turbine Hall, Turbine Hall Basement and the RCA.

I took the opportunity to consider the fire safety provision amongst a very busy work face within Unit 1 of the Turbine Hall and RCA.  A detailed explanation and demonstration was provided to me by the Hot Work Coordinator as to the Hot Work permission and control procedures. I was also provided with demonstrable evidence of the advances made in the laydown area management and controls.

The legislation focuses on life fire safety not nuclear fire safety issues. I notified the Fire Safety Coordinator of the themes and areas I intended to inspect and requested him to provide pre-audit material to assist in the process; the material was provided to me in a timely fashion.

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The site gave access throughout the day to subject area experts. Accompanying me throughout the inspection was the Fire Safety Coordinator (FSC). The FSC was able to provide answers to questions and provide evidence of the sites’ fire safety arrangements.

During my inspection, I challenged the FSC about procedures and approaches to the practical application of maintaining adequate fire safety provision during the outage. I questioned personnel to test effectiveness and knowledge of arrangements. I examined a series of documents prior to my arrival on site. A considerable part of the day included a walk through all areas of the buildings mentioned in 1.1 above. I paid particular attention to the practical application of the fire safety strategy. I took the opportunity throughout the walk down phase of my inspection to point out examples of obstacles and fire safety issues that are likely to compromise the application of the fire safety strategy that is in place.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not Applicable

Key Findings, Inspector's Opinions and Reasons for Judgements Made

Key Findings

My overall impression was one of a well-managed fire safety strategy which adequately demonstrated an ability to ensure that fire safety is taken seriously and is given the due consideration it deserves during an outage. The dynamic nature of an outage requires a focused approach to the management of fire safety. I am satisfied that the FSC has developed a robust approach to the management of fire safety during these periods. I am of the opinion that senior management have identified fire safety as a significant element of the safety culture at Heysham 1 Power Station.

It was evident during the inspection that significant engineering activity is taking place particularly in the Turbine Hall and RCA resulting in the numbers of personnel on the site being far higher than under normal generating conditions.

In particular the increase in the numbers of contractors and transient workers is an issue which requires considerable practical and managerial control in order to ensure that expected station standards are maintained.

The outage activity has the potential to impact considerably on the life fire safety provision within the RCA, Turbine Hall and associated buildings; not least of all due to the considerable increase in fire loading, changes in layout of the buildings particularly due to the amount of scaffolding in place, and due to the increased amount of hot work and confined space activity taking place. Along with the considerable increase in numbers of personnel on site, these activities significantly increase the level of control that is required to manage the potential risk from fire.

During my inspection I was impressed with the degree of preparation and control that has been applied to the management of the Temporary Laydown Areas (LDA), particularly within the Turbine Hall.

Inspectors Opinions

I am of the opinion that the Heysham 1 Power Station Management Team displayed an appreciation of the importance of effective fire safety measures within the facilities and that overall they show a desire to achieve compliance with the relevant legislation.

Reasons for judgements made

The inspection primarily involved looking into the management of fire safety and physically walking through a number of buildings and facilities and speaking with staff. I questioned and challenged observations with the Heysham 1 Power Station FSC and others that I met during the course of the day.

The inspection provided an overarching impression of a good direction of travel being implemented and a high level of importance being placed on the provision of the required standards for conventional fire safety arrangements.  

Conclusion of Intervention

I concluded with an assessment of compliance with the legislation at a wash-up meeting with the Quality Management Group Head.

Overall my findings in relation to the areas I inspected, demonstrate a good level of fire safety provision and management. The site management, and especially the FSC, understand that in order for the fire safety systems that are in place at Heysham 1 to do their job adequately, it is imperative that all members of staff are fully conversant with the important role that they play in the fire safety strategy.