‘Stop Battery Fires’ campaign starts following an uptick in waste steam fires across Lancashire

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The increasing amount of battery fires are said to be a ‘growing concern’ across Lancashire.

In the last 12 months, Lancashire County Council has experienced 23 fires across the county's waste sites where the most probable cause is the failure of a lithium-ion battery. 

This number has increased year-on-year for the last three years, where in 2020, there were just 4 fires in the region attributed to the failure of a lithium-ion battery.

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A new “Stop Battery Fires campaign” from Recycle Your Electricals and the National Fire Chiefs Council is raising awareness of the importance of electricals and battery recycling.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue have attended a number of incidents involving battery fires.Lancashire Fire and Rescue have attended a number of incidents involving battery fires.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue have attended a number of incidents involving battery fires. | Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

This was after new research shows lithium-ion batteries thrown in household rubbish bins have led to over 1,200 fires in the last 12 months across the UK.

Caraline Dunne, assistant operations manager at Lancashire County Council, says the fires are of growing concern in the region: 

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She said: “Unfortunately you never know what has been put in a bin, some combinations including batteries have the potential to be catastrophic.

The County Council's waste transfer station have to constantly expect lithium-ion batteries that have been incorrectly disposed of.The County Council's waste transfer station have to constantly expect lithium-ion batteries that have been incorrectly disposed of.
The County Council's waste transfer station have to constantly expect lithium-ion batteries that have been incorrectly disposed of. | Lancashire Fire Service

“Staff at our waste transfer station are constantly vigilant for batteries and unexpected things in the waste we receive.”

A fire broke out at the site amongst some recycling at the end of the working day. 

Fortunately, staff spotted the smoke, and the fire service were called who attended the fire overnight.

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Following the fire, the facility was closed for over two weeks, during which the entire tipping hall had to be emptied of the water contaminated waste and recycling while contractors replaced equipment that was destroyed by the blaze. 

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s Area Manager Neil Taylor.Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s Area Manager Neil Taylor.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s Area Manager Neil Taylor. | Lancashire Fire and Rescue

To keep local bin collections in Preston and recycling centres running smoothly during the clean-up operation all the waste and recycling had to be taken to an alternative location.

The cost of the clean-up operation and alternative arrangements for the waste was over £100,000.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service have attended various fires involving lithium-ion batteries  - many of which occurred at recycling centres as the result of loose batteries and small electricals containing hidden lithium-ion batteries being disposed of in general waste. 

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Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s Area Manager Neil Taylor said: “Lithium-ion batteries need to be disposed of in the right way because they contain chemicals that are hazardous to the environment.

“If they are disposed of incorrectly, when damaged, they can cause fires in waste collection vehicles or at waste processing facilities, which puts people's lives at risk.”

“We recommend that people take their batteries and electricals to recycling centres when they are no longer needed.”

You can find your nearest electrical and battery recycling point via the Recycle Your Electricals Postcode Locator.

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