Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Auckland rubbish truck fires on the rise

Nine recycling and rubbish trucks caught fire in Auckland in the first three months of 2024 compared with 13 for the whole of last year, the Council has revealed.

Three of the nine council trucks were so badly damaged they were taken off the road for repairs.

Auckland Council GM Waste Solutions, Parul Sood says the fires pose a risk to the public as well as truck drivers, and the main culprits are most likely lithium batteries, disposable vapes and other electrical items placed in kerbside collection bins.

During the compaction process in the truck, lithium batteries can rupture or short causing it to ignite, she said.

“When a fire sparks in the back of a truck, drivers must act fast to follow safety protocols, which often involves them ejecting the load onto the road for Fire and Emergency New Zealand to extinguish. While drivers are given training to ensure their and others, safety they are still unnecessarily being put in extreme danger,” said Ms Sood.

“Rubbish truck fires also inconvenience Aucklanders, because the road gets cordoned off while the fire is extinguished and the waste is safely removed, causing major hold-ups.

“Having up to 8-cubic metres of rubbish or recycling dumped in the street poses risks to people and the environment, and these fires are entirely preventable. We urge all residents to dispose of hazardous waste the right way by checking on the Auckland Council website.”                             

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Risk Reduction and Investigations Manager, Peter Gallagher says people might not be aware of the serious risks that some household items pose.

“Correct disposal is essential for any hazardous items and that includes any battery-powered or electrical device,” he said.

“We encourage people to do the right thing and dispose of these items correctly to keep themselves and everyone else safe.”

The types of hazardous items that cannot be placed in rubbish or recycling bins include vapes, car batteries, electric scooters, jumpstart packs, aerosols – paint and butane canisters, gas bottles – and lithium batteries and devices containing these batteries.

Lithium batteries can be found in a range of household items, such as laptops, mobile phones, hearing aids, power tools, power banks, rechargeable batteries and disposable vapes.

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