Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Sellafield fire safety inspection

Executive summary

Purpose of intervention

I conducted an inspection of fire safety at Building **** on the Sellafield site that focused on the themes of fire safety management and practical fire safety provision. The purpose of the inspection was to ensure that the Licensee was achieving compliance with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. I completed a tour of the selected facility before concluding with a final meeting with principal management. I identified a number of areas for improvement; these are reported in items 2.1 - 2.11 below.

Generally the fire safety arrangements were Below Standard (AMBER)

Interventions Carried Out by ONR

The site gave access throughout the day to building managers and subject area experts. Accompanying me throughout the inspection was the Building Manager (BM) and the Fire Systems Engineer (FSE). The BM and FSE were 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 in a facility that is over 60 years old. 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 a random selection of the areas within ****. 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 existing fire safety strategy.

Explanation of Judgement if Safety System Not Judged to be Adequate

Not Applicable

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

My overall impression was one of a fire safety strategy managed in a pragmatic fashion whilst understanding that the age and design of the facility affords a number of practical challenges to achieve compliance. I am satisfied that the facility management adequately demonstrated an ability to ensure that fire safety is taken seriously and is given the due consideration it deserves.

The conditions relating to the fire safety provision within this facility rely on the early detection and warning in the event of a fire. An on-going project to replace the existing fire alarm and detection system with a modern L1 / L3 alarm and detection system is making good progress and will form the primary aspect of the facility fire safety strategy.

A risk based approach is taken across the Sellafield estate, to the training of suitable numbers of personnel in the practical use of fire extinguishers. It appears that there is currently no means to follow-up with refresher courses for those personnel initially trained in the practical use of fire extinguishers

An area within the **** which is being used to gain access via a scaffold structure to the floor below was identified. I have informed the BM of the need to have SL Fire Safety Dept asses the means of escape from this work face with regard to the travel distances involved.

I am of the opinion that the **** Management Team displayed an appreciation of the importance of effective fire safety measures within the facility and that overall they show a desire to achieve an ALARP approach to the relevant legislation.

Conclusion of Intervention

I concluded with an assessment of compliance with the legislation, and presented deficiencies and recognised areas of good practice at a wash-up meeting with the **** Management.

Overall my findings in relation to the areas I inspected, demonstrate an adequate level of fire safety provision and management. The BM understands that in order for the fire safety systems that are in place in **** 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 areas of potential improvement which I have communicated to the BM.