Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire Control received over 100 calls alerting them to blaze which involved up to 800 tonnes of metal, mixed plastic and rubber at a scrap metal recycling plant in Saltley, Birmingham.
It was quickly established that this was a significant fire and initially 70 firefighters, 12 fire engines, an aerial platform and a high volume water pumping unit were dispatched in order to tackle the blaze. In addition the service worked to prevent further spread of the fire to other stacks of materials using an on-site digger.
By the early evening support to tackle the fire increased to 17 fire engines and more than 100 firefighters. A multi-agency approach was needed was required due to risk of pollution and impacts on surrounding areas. Agencies included police, ambulance and utility companies.
Chief Fire Officer, Phil Loach, said: “Fire crews have made progress and the fire has now been surrounded. These types of incidents draw in a lot of resources in the initial stages – this is to prevent the fire spreading. It is likely to be a protracted incident and we will be dealing with the incident for at least the next 24 hours.”
Close collaboration with the Environment Agency was also required. CFOA and the Environment Agency recently agreed a National Memorandum of Understanding. This sets out how they will work better together and collaborate when addressing incidents which impact both fire and rescue services and the environment. Operational annexes produced as part of the document include; pollution incident prevention and mitigation and preventing waste and industry site fires.
The work continued right through the night and firefighters were supported with a supply of refreshments from the Rapid Relief Team.
By the morning the fire was under control and the operation beginning to be scaled down by with no reported injuries.
WMFRS dealt with the 2013 fire at a Smethwick recycling plant which is thought to have been started by a Chinese lantern and was the regions largest fire. In that fire over 200 firefighters were deployed and 40 appliances.
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