Wrongly discarded boat flares could’ve led to major South Tyneside fire

TWFRS firefighter pictured tackling the blaze at South Tyneside Council’s Middlefields Recycling Village.

Frustrated firefighters who battled a blaze at a coastal recycling plant have issued an urgent warning after finding the fire was sparked by a flare being thrown into the bin.

On Friday [September 2nd], a major incident was averted when fire crews extinguished a fire at the recycling centre in South Shields.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) Fire Control first received a call about the blaze at South Tyneside Council’s Middlefields Recycling Village at 6.07pm.

Firefighters from South Shields Community Fire Station were deployed to the premises on Heddon Way and were on the scene in a matter of minutes after staff operating mechanical diggers noticed smoke.

TWFRS crews, wearing respirator equipment and using a hose-reel, spent twenty-five minutes putting out the rubbish fire.

Once extinguished, an investigation found the source of the fire was flares activated from two discarded marine buoys. It is believed they had been incorrectly discarded into one of the skips on site.

These had been discarded in the domestic waste and now a senior firefighter has warned that these type of materials should not just be thrown in the bin.

Andrew Nelson, Station Manager at TWFRS, said: “The early detection of the fire by quick thinking Council staff, and the swift actions of our firefighters, has prevented a potentially serious fire from occurring.

“To avoid this happening again we would urge marine enthusiasts and residents to correctly discard of their specialist equipment, and not to use regular household refuse outlets to disperse of the materials.

“If flares and pyrotechnics are discarded inappropriately they have the potential to inadvertently activate, which could result in the ignition of nearby combustible materials.

“If a major fire had taken place at this premises, the overall risk to residents and council staff, and the potential knock-on effects to the local environment, could be devastating.

“This is why adhering to awareness information is essential to help prevent a fire of this nature happening in the future.”

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Transport and Neighbourhoods at South Tyneside Council, said: “Incidents such as this really highlight the dangers of not disposing of specialist or hazardous items correctly, the damage that they can cause and the risk it poses to the safety of others.

“They can spark, setting fire to any combustible materials around them. It is particularly dangerous in our waste collection vehicles or at waste sites, where they can cause a large fire.

“Had it not been for the quick-thinking waste officers at Middlefields, the consequences could have been disastrous.”

Luckily no-body was injured during the incident. The crew from South Shields Community Fire Station left the scene of the fire at 6.39pm.

Residents are urged not to put specialist items such as boat flares in their general waste or recycling bins, or in the general waste and recycling skips at the Recycling Village.

They should contact their supplier in the first instance about their safe disposal.

Specialist hazardous waste disposal companies can also be contacted directly.

However, other hazardous items including batteries and gas canisters can be safely disposed of at the Recycling Village using the dedicated facilities for these types of products.

For further information about the types of waste that can be correctly discarded at South Tyneside Council’s Middlefields Recycling Village please visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/waste