Blaze beware: how to stop making rubbish a fire risk

Adding the wrong items to rubbish bins and black sacks could put lives at risk by starting a fire, Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) has warned.

As well as the danger of a fire in a rubbish bin threatening homes or business premises, lack of care could start a blaze in rubbish lorry or see a landfill conflagration putting staff at risk.

The warning comes after 70 firefighters tackled a blaze that broke out at a landfill site in Wareham, Dorset, and almost a year since a fire took days to put out at Dimmer in Somerset.

Among the danger items that SWP says should never be added to the rubbish bin are:

  • Hot ash or part-burned materials from domestic or garden fires or barbecues.
  • Used portable barbeques whose charcoal may not be completely cold.
  • Household or vehicle batteries as these may short out or cause sparks.
  • Broken glass not carefully wrapped or bagged as it could act as a magnifying lens.
  • Aerosols as they may get hot or be pierced during the collection and landfill process.

The advice is simple in each case:

  • Let ash and portable barbecues completely cool, or fully damp down with water.
  • Recycle vehicle batteries through any one of Somerset’s 16 recycling sites.
  • Take household batteries to recycling sites or high street stores that collect them.
  • Carefully wrap and bag broken glass, which should also never go in recycling boxes.
  • Use up aerosols completely, do not squash, and then add them to recycling boxes.

A SWP spokesperson said: “These are common sense precautions to avoid fires. And recyclable items – including batteries and aerosols – should never be in household rubbish.”

No one was hurt in either landfill blaze, and in neither case has the cause yet been identified.

See here for more on what to recycle at the kerbside and at recycling sites.