26 June 2020 by Robyn White

Battery ‘cause of RCV fire in East Sussex’

A refuse collection vehicle caught fire in Crowborough, East Sussex last week with the cause being put down to the fact that batteries were thrown into household bins.

The East Sussex Fire Department says its firefighters were called to the scene on the morning of 16 June in Bridge Green in Crowborough.

The department sent one appliance from Crowborough fire station and it took approximately 1 hour to bring the fire under control using foam.

The fire took place Old Bridge Road, Crowborough

“The road was closed for a while as crews had to empty large amounts of refuse from the vehicle on to the road,” the East Sussex Fire Department said.

Reports

The fire was said to have caused “significant service disruption” to refuse and recycling collections.

The East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership said waste crews were “lucky and avoided any serious injury”.

Local reports also added that batteries caused sparks in the waste, resulting in it catching alight. Images in local press appear to show a split battery from a mobile phone as the cause.

Contract

It is thought that the vehicle belonged to Biffa (although this is to be confirmed); the company has held the waste and recycling contract in East Sussex since 2019, as part of an initial 7 year contract with the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership.

Biffa has previously highlighted the dangers that batteries can cause to collections. This week a spokesperson for the company said: “It’s absolutely essential that everyone applies full attention and due care to the safe disposal of batteries, as well as other hazardous items which can cause serious damage. We urge people to contact their local authorities if they are unsure of the correct disposal methods.”

The issue of batteries which have been put into residual waste bins causing fires is not new, and has been the cause of a number of fires in vehicles and waste facilities.

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