Council's plea over 'dangerous' bin act after THIRD garbage truck fire this year

The contents of the truck had to be dumped onto a basketball court so the fire could be safely extinguished.

A frustrated council is pleading with its residents to pay attention to what goes into their household bins after a garbage truck caught fire for the third time this year.

The blaze started early on Tuesday morning near a primary school in Mindarie, a beachside suburb of Perth, with the contents of the truck being dumped onto a basketball court so the fire could be safely extinguished.

The cause of the fire is thought to be a battery being incorrectly disposed of, with the City of Wanneroo's mayor Linda Aitken confirming it's an ongoing problem — and one felt across the country.

Last month, a Sydney council issued a stern warning to people in the harbour city’s east after an increase in lithium-ion battery blazes over the last few months. Previously, a mountain of rubbish had to be dumped in a Perth street for the same reason.

City of Wanneroo's garbage truck dumping pile of rubbish on a basketball court in a park after it caught fire.
A garbage truck in the Perth suburb of Mindarie was made to dump its contents on a basketball court after a battery was thought to have caused a fire. Source: ABC Perth

Residents urged to 'be responsible' with rubbish

Aitken told Yahoo News Australia it can be "fairly easily avoided" if residents "don't put their batteries in their rubbish bins" and discard them properly, but the message is continually ignored.

"We just need to be responsible — please don't throw them in your general rubbish," the mayor said on Wednesday, adding there are correct boxes outside shopping centres, in Bunnings and at the local park.

"You put your batteries in there so they can be recycled and repurposed appropriately and safely," she continued. "Every battery that's thrown in matters to our environment and it's a risk to our workers' health and safety."

City of Wanneroo garbage truck with 'never bin a battery' ad.
The council says it tries to get the message across, but residents continue to do the wrong thing. Source: Supplied

The fire on Tuesday morning is the third the council area has seen this year — all thought to be caused by a disposed battery. Lithium-ion batteries have been on the radar of fire departments for a long time, due to the ease in which they can ignite.

"When they're crushed and dropped they can become very unstable and ignite with explosive force," Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Adam Dewberry previously said. "They are an intense fire."

There have also been instances where houses have caught fire.

Garbage bin fire a 'major risk' for several reasons

Video captured by concerned residents, and shared by ABC Perth, shows the truck dumping its contents on a basketball court situated near a children's playground. Aitken said a fire like this is problematic for several reasons.

"It delays the collection of the rubbish, but it also has the potential to damage our rubbish trucks, which are worth tens of thousands of dollars," she told Yahoo. "The other thing is, and this is the biggest thing, it's the risk to our workers' health and safety. If they don't pick it up in time, they could be injured."

Pile of rubbish dumped on Perth street with burnt computer battery causing a fire.
Previously, another garbage truck in Perth was made to dump its contents after a battery inside a computer was thought to have caused a fire. Source: Facebook

A fire "can't be dealt with in the truck and must be dumped" each time, she continued saying "it's a danger to people, to personal safety, and the other risk is to property as well."

"Then we have to make sure that the field or the basketball court where it was laid, is safe afterwards so that it can be used for the purposes meant for, so people can play basketball on it," she added.

"Some people recycle and some people don't. But we need to be responsible for our environmental circular economy. Batteries are very dangerous."

Local councillors agree that "education is key" and say the correct disposal of batteries is an "ongoing challenge" the community faces.

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