Sprinklers praised after fire at Southwark MRF

Fire crews have urged businesses to consider the use of sprinkler systems to prevent major fires, after a small blaze was extinguished at Veolia’s MRF in Southwark last week.

Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters were called to the site on 17 June.

Aerial view of Veolia’s facility at Southwark, London

The fire is believed to have been caused by ignition of a lithium battery contained within mixed recyclable waste at the Integrated Waste Management Facility (IMWF) on Devon Street, in the Old Kent Road area of South London.

The sprinkler system at the site came into operation during the incident and helped to limit the damage caused, according to the London Fire Brigade, which has urged other businesses to install sprinkler systems to prevent future fires from escalating. The Brigade was called at 8.40pm and the fire was under control by 10.41pm, it said. The site was running again from around 3.00 am the following day.


A London Fire Brigade Spokesperson said: “This incident highlights the clear benefits of sprinklers to businesses and we would urge all companies and business owners to install them.

“As well as limiting fire damage and being potentially life-saving devices, sprinklers and other fire suppression systems help with business continuity by minimising disruption and allowing businesses to get back to normal as soon as possible.”

No injuries were reported following the fire. 500kg of loose recyclable materials were partially damaged.

Following on from the incident, Veolia has sought to remind householders not to present lithium ion batteries with dry recyclable waste, due to the risk these items pose in causing fires.


Julie Angulo, general manager for Veolia Southwark, said: “Safety on site is our number one priority and all our teams receive extensive training.

“I would like to praise the quick action of our staff and take this opportunity to remind residents in Southwark to safely dispose of their waste.”

“No batteries should ever be disposed of in household bins, instead they can be brought to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre for safe disposal.”

The IMWF facility includes materials recovery and mechanical biological treatment facilities, as well as a public reuse and recycling centre and an education and visitor centre. The fire took place within the materials recovery facility.

The site – which went into operation in January 2012 – is part of a 25-year waste management contract that Veolia holds with Southwark Council.

Sprinklers praised after fire at Southwark MRF

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