Dunedin hopes garbage truck fires serve as a wake-up call for garbage customers
DUNEDIN, Fla. — It only took seconds. As the driver of a Dunedin garbage truck compacted a load of rubbish on July 19, flames ignited in the back of his truck.
The truck’s onboard cameras captured the driver’s close call and quick response.
“He picked it up,” said Bill Pickrum, director of the city of Dunedin’s solid waste division. “He shot in the middle of the street. He compacted his load. He knew how to stay calm. He got out of the truck, took the fire extinguisher and put everything out in two minutes.
For Pickrum, the chilling incident highlights a problem. Some people throw flammable materials that don’t belong in curbside garbage carts. These hazardous materials include items such as fuels and accelerators, propane tanks, pool chemicals, lithium-ion batteries, automotive/marine batteries, paint products, garden products, antifreeze , household chemicals and items containing mercury.
“It could be the flammable products of everyday household chemicals, which you typically store under the kitchen sink,” Pickrum said.
According to Pickrum, the July 19 fire was started by discarded gasoline stored in two bottles of laundry detergent, and this garbage truck fire was not the only one Dunedin had experienced.
“Unfortunately, it happens,” Pickrum said. “We saw it quite frequently. Works in spurts.
Citronella tiki torch fuel was blamed for another garbage truck fire a week later in the back of the same truck.
Both cases endanger the driver and the brand new automated side arm truck.
“Three months,” Pickrum said. “This truck is worth about $400,000 in today’s price.”
He said the incidents could have impacted the citywide collection schedule, which is why Pickrum hopes the city’s solid waste customers will do the right thing with flammable and hazardous waste and throw it in the different collection places or events in Pinellas County. More information can be found on this link.
Although the Pinellas County Solid Waste Department has not experienced a similar fire in recent memory, a spokesperson said the county nearly did when an improperly discarded rechargeable battery was accidentally crushed by heavy equipment in the waste disposal complex. According to Pinellas County, these batteries can explode when compressed and should be taken to county collection sites for hazardous materials.
Hillsborough County Solid Waste, however, has documented two garbage truck fires in the past year due to improper disposal, according to collection manager Damien Tramel. He, too, encourages residents to use the county’s various drop-off sites. More Information for Hillsborough County Residents can be found on this link.