Warrington borough council has urged residents not to dispose of batteries through its kerbside recycling service, after a collection vehicle was damaged when a lamp battery caught fire last month.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service extinguished a fire in the collection vehicle early on the morning of 19 April when it caught light part-way through a collection round. Recycling crews were alerted to the fire due to smoke emerging from the back of the vehicle and called the fire service to the scene.
The Warrington fire is the second incident involving a battery blaze in a collection vehicle in recent weeks – highlighting the dangers of disposal of batteries.
The battery, which is thought to have been from a camping lamp had been collected during a fortnightly blue bin dry recyclable collection round – among target materials including cans, newspapers, cartons and plastic bottles.
According to the council, the blaze is likely to have been caused by sparks which occurred when the battery came into contact with the metal floor of the vehicle.
The council said that as the incident occurred early on in the round, the vehicle wasn’t full of flammable material and therefore the damage to the vehicle was limited.
However, in light of the incident, Warrington council is reminding residents not to dispose of batteries via its recycling service – and has pointed them towards the HWRC service, where batteries are accepted.
David Boyer assistant director transport and environment said: “Luckily nobody was hurt in this incident thanks to the quick thinking of our waste team and the work of Cheshire Fire and Rescue.
“This could also have cost council taxpayers more than £130,000 to replace a vehicle if the damage had been more significant.
“We would urge people to make sure they recycle batteries correctly and only put the correct items in the blue recycling bins.”
Fires from batteries within mixed recycling or waste material are seen as a particular risk for waste companies and local authorities.
In recent weeks East Northamptonshire council has also urged residents to heed warnings over the danger of batteries after an explosion in the back of a waste collection truck (see letsrecycle.com story). Fire crews identified the cause of the fire as a nickel–cadmium battery, the sort used in household items such as remote control toys and torches.