Asbestos risk after fire keeps Gloucestershire residents indoors

asbestos fire

Residents of Cinderford in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, have been instructed to avoid sitting in their gardens, hang washing or opening windows and doors during an asbestos clean-up following a blaze. The advice came after asbestos was identified in a building which had been burnt out. The blaze occurred last week.

Environmental health chief suspected that several cement roof tiles from the building housed deadly asbestos, asking residents to take precautions until the clean-up operation was completed. Although the risk of lung damage was low, the local Forest of Dean District Council issued advice from Public Health England advising the public on the steps to take after the blaze.

Take care not to clean up potential asbestos debris

The Public Health England advice on precautionary steps to take instructs people to close all external doors and windows, not to put washing out on lines, not to engage in outdoor activity unless necessary, not to enter the sites of such blazes or touch debris from them and not to use vacuum cleaners to clear debris as this may spread affected fibres into the air.

Dampening down debris

Tile debris should also be dampened down and lifted into double bin bags with gloves. Residents should then contact the council to remove it. The owner of the building was contacted and instructed to make the building safe. The water and foam used to get the blaze under control is likely to have stopped the fibres becoming airborne. The fibres are normally only harmful when breathed in over an extended time-frame.

Asbestos is unlikely to cause medical problems when it is dismantled and disposed of in the correct manner. Problems are only likely to occur when it has been broken, damaged, sanded, cut or broken. In these cases, small fibres may be released, which can be incredibly harmful. Asbestos was used to construct buildings for many years due to its fire-retardant attributes. However, its dangers were discovered many years ago, after buildings up and down the country had been built with the material. Today, properties are built using asbestos substitutes.

Asbestos debris and its safe removal and disposal

We would always recommend utilising a licensed asbestos contractor to undertake all asbestos works. A licensed contractor will have suitably trained operatives, have the correct plans of works & risk assessments, correctly maintained equipment, have appropriate means of disposing of the material and most importantly they’ll be fully insured to work with asbestos. Your local council may be able to give you advice on the removal of asbestos cement debris or disposing of asbestos materials safely. If at a last resort you have to handle asbestos cement debris the following can be used as a guide:

  • Wear suitable PPE & RPE
  • Dampen the AC debris with spray.
  • Pick up larger pieces of debris. Put them in the asbestos waste bag.
  • For debris on rough surfaces, keep it damp and scoop or scrape it into the asbestos waste bag.
  • Clean contaminated surfaces with damp rags, then put these in the asbestos waste bag.
  • Press adhesive tape onto small dust deposits, then put the tape in the asbestos waste bag.
  • If necessary, repair the AC – see sheet a13.
  • Put used rags and other waste in the asbestos waste bag and tape it closed. Put the asbestos waste bag in a clear polythene bag and tape it closed.
  • Follow full decontamination procedures on completion.

At Acorn Analytical Services, we can assist you if you suspect your property is harbouring asbestos and you need to carry out an asbestos survey. We can also make you more asbestos compliant and are able to offer completely independent and impartial advice on adhering to asbestos regulations. Get in touch today to find out more.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Acorn Lower Service 55

What happens when asbestos goes wrong?

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, has been a staple in the construction industry for decades due to its heat-resistant properties. However, when mishandled, it can lead to severe health risks, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Unfortunately, cases of asbestos mismanagement are still prevalent today, despite the wealth of information and regulations available to prevent such … Read more

asbestos an issue

Unmasking the Truth: Is Asbestos An Issue for UK Employers in 2023?

Is asbestos an issue for employers today, even a decade after regulations tightened? The answer, shockingly, remains a resounding yes. It’s easy to dismiss asbestos as a problem of the past, but the reality is that the spectre of asbestos still haunts many workplaces in the UK in 2023. Asbestos – A Lingering Threat Even … Read more

Asbestos removal 2

Acorn Help Raise Money for Help The Heroes

Saturday 4th May 2013 saw the second Tough Mudder event at Boughton House, Kettering. Taking part and helping to raise money for Help The Heroes was Acorn Analytical Services Director – Neil Munro. Tough Mudder® events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, determination, and camaraderie. … Read more

Acorn Lower Service 39

Firms fined for asbestos exposure risk at scrap yard and naval training base

A number of workers and Royal Navy personnel were exposed to asbestos after pipes lined with the dangerous material were left on a roadside before being put in an open skip and transferred to a salvage yard, a court has heard. The pipes, lined with asbestos insulation, were removed from HMS Sultan naval training base … Read more

DSCF0003 1024x764 1

Council in court for ignoring asbestos threat in school

Thurrock Council has been fined after admitting to failures in how it managed asbestos across its schools. Basildon Crown Court heard today (1 March 2013) that despite being made aware of asbestos concerns in a boiler room at Stifford Clays Junior School, no action was taken. A specialist contractor tasked with carrying out an asbestos … Read more

Asbestos demolition 3

Building owner fined for asbestos exposure

An industrial property owner has been prosecuted for exposing untrained workers to dangerous asbestos fibres following a series of failings at a building in Newport. In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court heard today (21 February) that Mr Nasimul Karbani, from Middlesex, employed two workers and then helped … Read more

Management survey 1

Hospital trust in court for asbestos failures

A North East hospital trust has been fined after contractors were unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Sunderland Eye Infirmary. Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard today that over the weekend of 24/25 March 2012, contractors at the infirmary on Queen Alexandra Road drilled through door surrounds on a ward to install cables. The following day concerns … Read more

Acorn Banners 23

Swansea engineering firm and building contractor fined for asbestos exposure

Workers were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres following a catalogue of errors by an engineering company and a building firm during a demolition and refurbishment project in Swansea, a court has heard. The project was badly managed, with untrained staff put in charge of the operation, and was underpinned by inadequate surveys for the presence … Read more