Thursday, February 29, 2024

Brisbane records spike in ‘hot load’ fires

Brisbane Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner, is urging local residents to ensure batteries and other flammables are disposed of safely follow a spike in dump and garbage truck fires of more than 75%.

Lord Mayor Schrinner said residents incorrectly placing batteries and flammables into their household bins was creating a serious safety hazard with life-threatening explosions and fires occurring too often.

“Brisbane is a city that’s renowned for being clean, green and sustainable so ensuring we dispose of waste correctly is really important,” he said.

“Making sure we all dispose batteries and other flammables correctly isn’t just about sustainability, it’s also about safety.

“Explosions and fires caused by batteries, gas canisters and other flammable items can happen suddenly when disposed of incorrectly, endangering residents, workers, and the environment.

“In some cases, we’ve seen whole loads of collected rubbish needing to be dumped on the side of the road to avoid collection vehicles catching alight.

“Batteries, including those in vape products and escooters and ebikes, should never end up in the rubbish bin – they’re quite literally a fire or explosion waiting to happen.”

There were 32 rubbish-related fire incidents in Brisbane in 2022, compared to 18 in 2020.

Of the 80 fires over the past three years there were at least 14 instances of so-called “hot loads”, the Lord Mayor said.

“This is where there has been an explosion in the back of a garbage truck and the driver has had to take drastic action and dump the entire load onto the street to save not only the truck, but also themselves.”

He said other fires had also started in rubbish pits at Council’s Resource Recovery Centres, where smouldering rubbish suddenly explodes into flames.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner John Cawcutt said the correct disposal of batteries, in particular rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, was an important step in reducing waste fires.

“It is inevitable that a rechargeable lithium-ion battery disposed of incorrectly will incur some form of trauma that results in battery damage through the rubbish collection and disposal process,” Mr Cawcutt said.

“Damaged or crushed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries pose an even greater risk of explosion, and in the disposal process they’re creating a recipe for disaster.

“For this reason, it is vital that people never dispose of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in general household or recycling bins, industrial bins or piles.”

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