EMR Swindon reopens after company's third fire of 2017

European Metal Recycling’s (EMR) Swindon site has reopened after the third fire at one of its UK sites this year broke out over the weekend.

Seven crews were called to the site on Gipsy Lane just before 1am on Saturday morning (15 April). A spokesperson from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said that around 300 tonnes of scrap metal was involved in the fire.

EMR Swindon reopens after company's third fire of 2017
Firefighters had extinguished the fire by 3.30pm on Saturday, and a site inspection carried out on Sunday saw the incident closed. EMR is now working with the fire service to determine the cause of the fire.

The Gipsy Lane site stores and processes ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as scrap vehicles. It is one of 75 sites operated by the company in the UK. The depot was fully operational from Tuesday (18 April) morning following a clear up of the fire’s debris.

Series of EMR fires

Last weekend’s fire was the third at an EMR site so far in 2017, with another coming in the latter months of 2016.

Severe traffic problems were caused on 2 January as around 75 tonnes of recyclable waste at EMR’s Brentford site caught fire, causing smoke to billow over the nearby A4 and M4.

Three months later thick smoke caused disruption to activity in the Port of Liverpool, when a fire broke out at EMR’s Bootle site in Alexandra Dock on 11 March, affecting machinery and storage areas. An investigation into the fire, which was only fully extinguished three days later, by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.

The fire was the second large fire to break out at the site within the past six months, with another, containing ‘a large quantity of recycling waste inside a shed’, requiring action in 2015.

A spokesperson for EMR said in March: “We are concerned that the timing of the event is similar to previous fires at the site and believe arson could be the cause.

“We take such instances very seriously and, since the last fire, we have engaged the services of an experienced ex-fire chief to help us understand the causes of these fires and how we can prevent them happening.”

Commenting on the Swindon fire, and EMR spokesperson said: “Our on-site teams immediately implemented our emergency procedure which included notifying the Fire Service, who reacted quickly and professionally.

“The cause of the fire is yet unknown and we are working with the Fire Service and other bodies to understand the root cause. While we investigate the cause, we would like to apologise to the local community and businesses for the inconvenience this incident may have caused and would like to reassure them that we take our environmental, health and safety responsibilities very seriously.

“We can also confirm that, due to the hard work of our team at Swindon, the depot was back fully operational as planned from this Tuesday.”

Waste fires are a problem that have been the focus of investigation by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) for the past year, as the industry and firefighting services seek to find greater evidence as to how fires comprising of waste materials can best be prevented and fought.

According to the CFOA, there have been around 250 incidents of waste fires per year for the last decade, with an estimated cost to fire and rescue services of around £16 million a year.

More information is available in a comment piece written by Mark Andrews, Waste Fires Lead, at the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, for Resource suggesting how the waste industry can reduce its fire risk.

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