Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Inspection of fire safety at Hunterston A

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

I conducted an inspection of fire safety at Hunterston A Power Station that focused on the themes of fire safety management and practical fire safety provision. I reviewed those issues identified at the previous fire safety inspection against any expected progress that was required. I completed a tour of the selected facilities before concluding with a final meeting with principal management. I communicated a number of observations and recommendations; these are reported in items 2.1 - 2.9 below.

Generally the fire safety arrangements were good.

Purpose of Intervention

The purpose of the planned inspection was to ensure that the Licensee was showing compliance with the requirements of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. The inspection focused on both the management of fire safety and the practical fire safety provision within the Contractors Compound, Welfare Building and the Administration Building. I reviewed the approach being taken to the testing and maintenance of the emergency lighting systems and fire alarm and detection systems across the site. The legislation focuses on life fire safety not nuclear fire safety issues. I notified the Head of Safety / Fire Safety Coordinator (FSC) 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 senior managers and 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 those accompanying me, and others about procedures and approaches to the practical application of maintaining adequate fire safety provision. I questioned personnel to test effectiveness and knowledge of arrangements. I examined a series of documents prior to my arrival on site. Part of the day included discussions as to the on-going improvements and upgrading of the fire alarm and detection systems which appear to be progressing well. I also discussed specific aspects of the emergency lighting test routines during a working lunch with system specific engineers. I completed a walk-through of 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.

I was provided with a clear indication from all of those persons I met that a positive culture of openness exists, and a willingness to learn and improve is present within the safety environment.

My interaction with the safety representative presented a positive view of how management view and deal with fire safety as a safety theme.

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 management team which clearly demonstrated an ability to ensure that fire safety is taken seriously and is given the due consideration it deserves. I am of the opinion that senior management support the fire safety activity across the site and understand the risk that fire poses through the decommissioning process.

The issues from last years' intervention have all been closed out. Site responded in a positive way to the issues that were identified at the 2015 intervention and addressed all of the issues that required attention.

The fire safety strategy document produced by the FSC will be reviewed against the soon to be issued new company fire safety standard in order ensure consistency of approach is ensured.

It was pleasing to note that the continuation of the upgrade to the sites fire alarm and detection systems is due to be complete by the end of March 2017. I have reiterated the importance of maintaining all the fire safety systems to an acceptable standard as the site has many years of decommissioning ahead of it.

Inspectors Opinions

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

Reasons for judgements made

The inspection involved a combination of 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 Hunterston A Power Station FSC and others that I met during the course of the day.

The overarching impression was one 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 Senior Management Team and the Head of Safety.

Overall my findings in relation to the areas I inspected, demonstrate an adequate level of fire safety provision and management. The site management, and especially the Head of Safety, understand that in order for the fire safety systems that are in place at Hunterston A 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.  I identified a number of issues which I require to be closed out which will be robustly followed up as part of the post inspection process.