The greatest environmental damage caused by fire is often created by the water used to fight it rather than the actual fire itself.
Water is the most widely used substance for extinguishing fires, as it is usually readily available. Whilst the water alone is non-hazardous and does not pose an environmental threat, it can become contaminated with the materials and chemicals stored on site, firefighting foam, or combustion by-products.
Whilst some water will undoubtedly evaporate, excess water will often be released into the ground, or local drainage networks – including watercourses.
Many commercial and industrial sites store potentially hazardous chemicals or materials, which would be highly polluting should they enter a watercourse with fire water. The subsequent runoff can lead to a Major Accident to the Environment.