Bin lorry fire sparks appeal to residents not to put batteries in bins

Residents in the East Riding are being urged not to put batteries or power banks in their bins – after one of them sparked a fire in a bin lorry.

One of East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s bin collection crews was forced to tackle a fire after black smoke started billowing from the back of their truck while they were working in Bridlington.

The cause of the fire was discovered to be a power bank – a battery used to charge other devices – which had been placed in a green household wheelie bin and then emptied into the waste lorry.

Now the council’s waste and recycling team is appealing to residents never to place batteries of any kind in their household bins in a bid to prevent further incidents.

Bin lorry driver Brian Freeman and crew members Paul Blewitt and Emily Medforth were on a regular round in Bridlington in October when they were faced with the emergency.

Paul said: “We’d just emptied two green wheelie bins into the back of the wagon when we saw smoke coming out of one of the bins.

“Whatever it was had set fire to the waste inside the wagon and black smoke started pouring out the back, so we knew we had to act quickly.”

The quick-thinking crew flagged down a nearby wheelie bin washing van and asked the owner, Alan Yates, to dampen down the waste with his pressure washer.

Thankfully the smoke died down and the crew were able to drive the lorry to a safe location at a waste transfer station at Carnaby, where they dumped the still-smouldering load of waste into a puddle of water and sprayed it with a hosepipe to completely extinguish the fire.

It was then discovered the cause of the fire had been a portable power bank.

Paul said: “The fire could have been a lot worse. If it hadn’t been for Alan being there at the right time with his pressure washer the wagon might have gone up in flames.

“People might not understand the dangers of putting batteries in their bins, but they are a real fire risk.”

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has previously issued a similar appeal to residents after batteries caused a number of fires at recycling facilities in 2017, after they came into contact with vehicles and machinery.

Now the council’s waste and recycling team is reminding residents never to place batteries or power banks in their household bins, but instead to recycle them in the safe and correct way.

People can take all used batteries to:

  • Household waste recycling sites – All 10 sites in the East Riding have dedicated battery bins that can take all types.
  • Local shops and supermarkets – Most stores that sell batteries will have a battery recycling point or container which residents can put their used ones into.
  • To find your nearest location to recycle batteries just visit the website and type in your town or postcode.

Paul Tripp, head of streetscene services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Our crew acted extremely quickly to prevent a much bigger fire and the potential loss of one of our bin lorries.

“As we’re coming up to the time of year when lots of batteries will get used for new presents and gadgets, we are encouraging residents not to bin them, but instead to recycle them at shops or household waste recycling sites.”

All batteries of any size can be recycled … from small watch batteries to those used in remote controls, from mobile phone batteries to large torch batteries, even rechargeable batteries and power packs that have come to the end of their life.

Household waste recycling sites also accept batteries from cars and motorcycles, and also old e-cigarettes and their batteries, so they can be recycled properly and safely.

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