Quick-thinking bin collectors dodge disaster after dumped battery sparks fire on West Northamptonshire Council truck

Workers use extinguisher to douse flames after careless local dumps rechargeable

Friday, 6th May 2022, 11:38 am

Quick-thinking waste collectors dodged disaster after a discarded rechargeable battery caught fire in their truck.

Towcester-based loader Leighton Cousins first spotted flames after emptying a black wheelie bin in Middleton Cheney and raised the alarm.

Driver Ian O’Driscoll immediately turned off the lorry and grabbed an extinguisher on his way to the rear of the vehicle before putting out the flames.

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Quick-thinking bin crew Leighton Cousins, Sean Clayton and Ian O'Driscoll, who averted a major fire on a council truck

Both operators could see the smouldering battery — thought to have come from a cordless vacuum cleaner — and removed it.

West Northamptonshire Council is reminding residents of the dangers of throwing batteries in with household rubbish instead of bagging them up separately.

Councillor Phil Larratt, cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “It might not seem like much, but if that fire had taken hold they might have been forced to eject their load or risk losing a very expensive bit of equipment — not to mention the risk of injury or worse.

“Then there’s the call out to the fire service, a hazardous clean-up, and a lorry out of action, which has a knock-on effect on workloads and overtime costs.

“I’ll give the resident the benefit of the doubt and say it was a momentary lapse that, had it not been for a quick-thinking crew, could have cost the tax-payer tens of thousands of pounds.”

The council collects all types of household batteries — but not car batteries — if they are put in a bag on top or next to recycling bins for recycling.

In a second incident on the same day, a crew driving behind another bin lorry noticed smoke coming from it.

Again, a fire extinguisher had to be used to put out the fire, which was thought to be caused by hot ashes.

Cllr Larratt added: “It might be a bumper weekend for barbecues, and I want everyone to remember they need to be very certain ashes are fully extinguished and cold throughout before they go anywhere near a wheelie bin.”

■ Visit the West Northamptonshire website to check what goes in which bins.

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