Friday, September 25, 2020 - 1:00 PM

Fire Department and City Concerned About Cause of Fires at RHB

Silhouettes of three firefighters spraying a fire at the Robin Hood Bay Waste Management Facility landfill.

Today, the St. John’s Regional Fire Department and City officials joined forces to issue a warning to residents in the Greater St. John’s area; disposing of household hazardous wastes in regular garbage could cause a potentially serious issue at the landfill – or in your community.

Public Works estimates that 65% of the fires are caused by either household chemicals, lithium ion batteries or marine flares.

“Our spotters have luckily noticed a number of hazardous items disposed of in regular waste, ranging from propane tanks to household chemicals, but unfortunately smaller items are not always seen,” explained Deputy City Manager Lynnann Winsor. “When these items are compressed by our crews as part of regular waste management they can and do explode, causing fires at the landfill.”

Since January 2019, there have been 31 fires at the landfill, the majority of which have been caused by improper disposal of household hazardous wastes, including lithium batteries, marine flares and household chemicals, such as pool chemicals. Three of these fires were so serious that the Fire Department had to be called in to assist with the suppression efforts.

“Fires at the landfill are particularly concerning to our team as we have no way of knowing at the start what hazards our team might face, from chemical exposure to explosions,” said Acting D.C. of Operations Dean Foley. “Public works staff who initially try to suppress these fires are also at risk – and the issue is that these fires could be reduced substantially if residents disposed of hazardous materials properly in the first place.”

Household hazardous wastes are collected at Robin Hood Bay Wednesday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Our drop-off will accept batteries, electronics, propane tanks, paint, motor and cooking oil, aerosol cans, light bulbs and even fire extinguishers – none of which should be thrown away with your regular garbage,” explained Lynnann Winsor. “Explosives, ammunition, flares and unused fireworks are not accepted and should be disposed of through the vendors licensed to accept these items.”

For more on what is accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off and how to properly dispose of these items, go to curbitstjohns.ca.