This document provides an overview of the roles of various agencies in responding to small scale emergencies and incidents where asbestos risks must be managed following a fire. It applies to situations where asbestos has been identified or is assumed to be present.

It is intended as a brief and general guide only. Each situation should be assessed and treated for its particular circumstances in accordance with current legislation and more detailed guidance may be needed.

BACKGROUND

  • Asbestos fibres can present a health risk when they are airborne and inhaled.

  • Although asbestos does not burn, it may be damaged during a fire and can disperse into nearby areas. This may be by asbestos cement sheets shattering, asbestos fibres dispersing in the air and sometimes, fire fighting water runoff can carry fine asbestos material.

  • Asbestos can also be disturbed when a building collapses, is vandalised or inappropriately accessed after a fire.

  • Building materials are commonly 10-15 per cent asbestos and rarely more than 50 per cent asbestos.

  • The risk of exposure to asbestos may be very low if precautions are taken.

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