’Significant’ fire breaks out at Swindon waste site
Firefighters from Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service (WFRS) were sent to Averies Recycling plant in Marshgate, Swindon, yesterday (21 July), after the fire service received reports that a ‘significant’ fire had taken hold.
The emergency call was placed at 5.51pm and by the time the fire crew arrived they were faced with 1,000 tonnes of general waste and building waste that had caught alight. A skip lorry and other machinery had also been affected.
At the height of the blaze, there were six fire engines, two water carriers, an operational support unit and an incident command vehicle in attendance from fire and rescue crews from Royal Wootton Bassett, Cricklade, Marlborough, Malmesbury and Stratton.
Military firefighters were also brought in, along with special equipment from RAF Brize Norton, to help bring the fire under control.
By this morning (22 July), four fire crews remained at the site and WFRS has said that they will ‘need to remain at the site for some days’.
— Environment AgencySE (@EnvAgencySE) July 22, 2014
“Stay inside with doors and windows closed”
WFRS has been working with Local Resilience Forum partners, including Swindon Borough Council, Public Health England, NHS England and Wiltshire Police, to ensure public safety, and air quality monitoring is expected to take place over the coming days (or for as long as smoke remains in the area).
Taking to Twitter this morning, WFRS said: ’We continue to tackle the fire at Averies Recycling in Swindon – air quality monitoring is now underway to see if smoke is an issue. If you’re in an area affected by smoke and are concerned stay inside with doors/windows closed.’ Those with pre-existing respiratory conditions are also being advised to keep doors and windows closed.
Tackling waste fires
Waste site fires are commonplace, with figures released last year showing that between 2001 and 2012, the average rate of fires at waste and recycling works came in at just under one per day.
To reduce the outbreak of fire at waste storage sites, the Environment Agency (EA) has previously released guidance that identifies a range of measures that operators of waste storage sites should implement to minimise the risk of fire. However, Mark Tansey of fire detection supplier FireVu recently told Resource that the guidance neglects to mention fire detection and prevention technology, which he says is an ‘essential step’ to stalling and extinguishing fires.
More recently the Environmental Services Association (ESA) produced draft fire control guidance – currently undergoing consultation – which seeks to supersede the current EA guidance..