Oil Tanks and Oil Burning Equipment
The Fire Department has authority in the District of Saanich for the installation, removal or alteration of flammable and combustible liquid storage tanks.
Permits are required for installation, removal or alteration of any storage tanks containing flammable or combustible liquids, including outside above ground storage tanks, underground storage tanks, inside building storage tanks and waste oil storage tanks.
For information and assistance, please email or call Fire Prevention at 250-475-5500.
Oil Tanks and Oil Burning Equipment
Oil fired furnaces are commonplace throughout Saanich and require homeowners to store a considerable amount of heating oil on their property. In recent years there have been 18 accidental discharges from privately owned oil storage tanks in Saanich which fouled the properties of the homeowners, adjoining properties, municipal storm sewer systems and required cleanup in nearby creeks and waterways.
In the event of an accidental fuel spill in the municipality, Saanich acts as a first responder and works with provincial authorities until the party responsible can take over the response and seeks reimbursement for response costs. The cost to property owners and responding agencies has been significant in some cases. Often the home owner is responsible for all cleanup costs and does not have coverage under their home insurance policy.
Find Out if There is an Oil Tank on Your Property
The Fire Department has some historical records regarding oil burning equipment installations and storage tanks for properties in Saanich. Although our historical records are not complete, the Fire Department does record permits issued to remove, inert or abandon an unused oil tank.
To investigate whether there is a tank on your property, please email or call Fire Prevention at 250-475-5500.
Oil Spill Prevention
Saanich has taken a number of steps to raise awareness about oil spills, including posting signs along walking trails near open waterways to advise the public of emergency contact numbers if a spill is spotted, issuing public advisories when an oil spill cleanup is likely to be extensive and/or the public may have access to the affected area, and providing educational materials to residents about the risks of spills and options for removing tanks.
Avoid Spills by Regularly Inspecting Your Oil Tank
- Metal tanks can corrode from the inside out, making metal failures hard to spot before they become serious. Any water from condensation goes to the bottom of the tank where it can cause corrosion. Damaged fuel lines that lead from the tank to the furnace, and loose fuel filters can also result in leaks.
- Check the tank for problems after each fuel delivery.
- Make every effort to protect the fuel link between the tank and heating system.
- Regularly check the outside of tanks for rust, particularly where legs are welded to the tank. Clean off rust and apply rustproof paint.
- Watch for leaks in the fuel filter, or the nozzle becoming plugged.
- Ask your supplier to visually inspect the fuel line for leaks.
- Keep a simple spill kit handy in case of leaks or spills (available from safety supply stores).
- Tanks shall be securely installed.
Oil Burning Equipment and Fuel Tank Bylaw Changes
To further reduce the risk of accidental fuel spills and contamination, on May 26, 2014 Saanich Council adopted “Oil Burning Equipment and Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid Fuel Tank Bylaw No. 9265” which requires oil burning equipment and oil tank installations and removals to be carried out by trained personnel and all installations and removal work to be inspected by the Fire Department prior to use. The bylaw also requires property owners to remove underground tanks that are no longer required or have been out of service for two years, whichever comes first.
Some of the additional requirements include:
- All oil burning equipment and storage tank installations and removals may only be carried out by personnel trained in such functions and who can satisfactorily complete that work in accordance with the BC Fire Code, CAN/CSA B139 – Installation Code for Oil Burning Equipment and BC Building Code.
- To install or remove oil burning equipment and liquid storage tanks, a permit is required from the Fire Department.
- Oil burning equipment must not be used or concealed until it has been inspected and approved by the Fire Chief.
- Inspections require 24 hours' notice. Installation personnel must be on site for all inspections. To schedule an inspection, call Fire Prevention at 250-475-5500.
- All installation and removal work must be inspected within 14 days of completion.
- Property owners are responsible for removing underground oil tanks that are not required or have been out of service for two years, whichever comes first. Oil tanks which have been inerted with a permit issued by the Fire Department prior to adoption of Bylaw 9265 are exempt from this requirement. However, insurance and financial institutions may require all inerted tanks be removed before approving or renewing home insurance policies or mortgage agreements.
Links and Resources
- District of Saanich – Oil Burning Equipment and Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid Fuel Tank Bylaw No. 9265
- District of Saanich – Home Heating Oil Tanks – Tank Maintenance & Spill Response
- BC Fire Code
- CAN/CSA B139 – Installation Code for Oil Burning Equipment
- BC Ministry of Environment – Facts on Contaminated Sites
- Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment – Environmental Code of Practice for Aboveground and Underground Storage Tank Systems Containing Petroleum and Allied Petroleum Products