Fire water or firefighting foam can be dangerous and needs to be disposed of properly.
When a fire is put out, at a property or during fire training exercises large volumes of water can remain pooled onsite. This is called fire water.
What is fire water?
Fire water is the water left behind after a fire is extinguished.
The fire brigade often adds firefighting foams that help put out fires, especially industrial blazes.
Fire water often contains dangerous materials like firefighting foams, chemicals released after combustion and flammable raw materials.
These dangerous materials in fire water:
pose an occupational health and safety risk to the people who work in our sewers
cause our sewers to corrode more quickly than usual
may cause explosions in our sewerage network
disrupt the normal operations of our sewage treatment plants
reduce the quality of recycled water and biosolids we produce at our treatment plants
damage the environment if they are not treated correctly.
Firefighting foams cause damage to our sewers and the surrounding environment.
fill up our treatment lagoons with foam and may cause them to overflow
can’t be processed at sewage treatment plants because of their complicated chemical makeup
are not biodegradable.
Managing fire water and firefighting foams
If you need to dispose of fire water in a sewer you must let us know beforehand. After you put out a fire, you must keep fire water onsite until we have confirmed that you can put it in one of our sewers.
If you don’t have time to let us know before you put fire water in the sewer, like in an emergency, you must let us know immediately afterwards so we can manage the impacts to our sewerage network.
When you ask to dispose of fire water in our sewers, we might ask you to:
confirm that you have considered other ways to dispose of the fire water
let us know how much fire water you want to dispose of
complete a laboratory analysis of the fire water so we know what is in it
supply a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the types of firefighting foams that are in the fire water
provide details on how the discharge to sewer will occur (and what pre-treatment will be applied).
We will not accept requests to dispose of fire water if you are using older kinds of firefighting foams that contain PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) or PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). These are not biodegradable, and should be collected and treated by a licensed waste disposal contractor.
We’ll assess your request based on all of the information you provide us.