Residents have been warned about what exactly they dispose of after Veolia staff were forced to deal with a small fire in the back of their collection truck.

The fire was discovered after rubbish was collected in Bickley and the London Fire Brigade were immediately called.

Firefighters escorted the Veolia vehicle to Baths Road depot where the waste could be safely dealt with.

The discarded waste contained a high performance lithium battery with wire leads, which would have likely been used to power a toy car or plane.

Councillor William Huntington-Thresher warned: "Although these incidents are rare, fires from damaged batteries are becoming more common and it is a timely reminder to all of us to properly dispose of our waste, mindful of the potential dangers of incorrect disposal.

"No batteries and especially Lithium polymer or Li-Ion batteries should be disposed of as refuse, they should be taken to one of our Reuse and Recycling Centres in Waldo or Churchfields Road – where they can properly be disposed of and recycled, without the same fire risks they otherwise pose."

The executive councillor for environment and community services added: "Many retailers also have collection points for regular batteries. Please also think of other items which should be thoughtfully disposed of to help protect the staff making the collections. Please carefully wrap broken glass for instance so that it doesn’t present a danger to collection crews."

Matthew Elmer, contract manager for Veolia Bromley, said he was proud of his crew’s professionalism after the fire two weeks ago.

He added: "They quickly recognised the problem and took action to prevent a more serious incident.

"The safety of our staff and the public is of paramount importance and we will also use this incident to remind all of our teams to be vigilant during the course of their collections and to follow the correct safety procedures when an incident occurs."