Shortly before 11pm on Sunday evening (26th April 2015), the senior management team and Fire Services were informed that fire had been reported onsite at our MRF at JWS Waste headquarters in Salford.
Further calls came in from a number of our employees who had started to attend site, these included Daryl Bartlett, Luke Hegarty and William Harrison. These employees immediately set about gaining access to the site to allow the Fire Services in, contacting management and began moving trucks and major equipment out of harm’s way, operating machinery to assist the Fire service and moving waste piles to minimise further damage.
Tim Andrew, our Operations Manager immediately headed down to site to coordinate the staff and assist the emergency services who were working to contain the blaze. As the fire was being tackled, these staff members then worked tirelessly to offer assistance and planning to the fire service, clearing waste storage bays to ensure that the fire was contained.
The rapid response of these employees gave the fire service a crucial head start in providing access, protecting the building, our equipment and our business as a whole. JWS Waste are incredibly grateful to the Fire Service team who attended site promptly and efficiently extinguished the fire, working with our onsite team to minimise risk and limit damage both the buildings, infrastructure and the surrounding environment. The site was also attended by both the Police and Ambulance service, and we are grateful for their assistance.
Working tirelessly through the night, Tim Andrew & his team implemented our contingency plan, in order to maintain collections for our customers and minimise any disruption as far as possible. The Drivers, Traffic and Customer Services Departments were asked to come into work as usual, with all other staff asked to remain at home in order to minimise access to the building, as nearby roads were closed and to leave the car park available to the emergency services. This was very difficult decision for many staff who were asked to stay at home as we are tight knit team who instinctively wanted to come in and assist in any way possible.
We are incredibly proud of the staff who went the extra mile to keep our customers informed, managing drivers and jobs in difficult circumstances, and we have been overwhelmed by the support of our customers who have been sending messages throughout the day and night. A large number of our major competitors have also contacted us and offered assistance and support through this time. This has been particularly humbling to see the waste industry standing together through times of adversity, each understanding the huge potential impact of a fire onsite and offering support. Thank you again to all those who have contacted us, we have been heartened by your continued support.
Now with JWS Waste back up to full operation again, within only 36 hours of the incident we find there are many positive aspects to recognise and acknowledge. Firstly, and most importantly the dedication and commitment of our staff, without whom we would be in a very different position today. The swift actions of Luke, Daryl, William and Tim had a direct and significant impact on minimising the damage and as a business we owe them a significant debt of gratitude. All members of the JWS team, both management and staff have contributed greatly to maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach for our customers and have really gone above and beyond the call of duty in response to this incident.
Secondly, the response of the emergency services has been exemplary, and their exceptional efficiency, hard work and professionalism was very impressive. We felt in very safe hands with them as each emergency service played their part and remained on standby. We were also humbled by the attendance of the Salvation Army, who very kindly attended and provided food and drink to those on site.
An external investigation is currently taking place and will continue to determine the cause of the fire. However as we begin to internally review the incident, we are reassured that the processes and procedures in place were more than sufficient and that our exemplary health and safety practises worked. The contingency and disaster recovery plans were implemented and offered our customers minimal disruption, enabling us to continue to offer our customers the services they have come to expect from us.
We feel that this incident will offer JWS Waste an opportunity to make further improvements and learn from this and we will be a stronger business for it.