In the event of a fire, new best practice requires just one hour of water cooling on the cylinder with a hazard zone of up to 200m if appropriate, followed by a further hour of precautionary monitoring. This is a considerable improvement on the previous guidance, published in 2003, which required any acetylene cylinder that has been involved in a fire to be cooled for 24 hours.
This guidance was based on a misinterpretation of an unconnected trial and had led to considerable disruption across the country with prolonged closures to roads, rail lines and businesses.
The CFRA’s new best practice is a result of work by the German Federal Institute for Material Testing and Research and a five-year study of acetylene cylinder incidents attended by London Fire Brigade. It brings the UK Fire and Rescue Service into line with other fire and rescue services around the world.
The revised guidance is available to download as a PDF on the government services and information website and the relevant chapter on acetylene cylinders starts at page 295.