26 September 2023

Fire Service pulls plug on lithium batteries

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The Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) has declared that lithium-ion batteries are becoming such a fire danger threat that it has issued a warning to householders not to misuse them as batteries and chargers.

According to the Service, volatile lithium-ion batteries are becoming commonplace in household appliances, children’s toys, ebikes, power tools and even lawn mowers.

“That’s seen MFS and SA Country Fire Service (CFS) firefighters respond to 74 house, garage and shed fires in three years,” the Service said, which “left a $7.02m damage bill and risked injuries or deaths.”

Community Engagement Officer at MFS, Phil Evans said that each time the fires were investigated, they were almost always found to be caused by dangerous decisions that should never have happened.

“These fires are caused by people using incompatible or non-genuine batteries or chargers, by people building their own batteries and chargers, or by the overcharging of batteries for days or weeks,” Mr Evans said.

“The other common cause is due to people persisting with using faulty chargers and batteries, or constantly charging an old battery that no longer holds its charge,” he said.

“NEVER buy electrical items on the internet from an overseas or little-known trader, as you won’t know if the battery and charger meet Australian standards.”

Mr Evans said the MFS warned that the unpredictability of a lithium-ion battery fire meant people should not attempt to move a burning battery outdoors, due to the risk of explosion.

“The message is clear – NEVER touch, move nor try to extinguish a lithium-ion battery fire.”

He said instead, “evacuate immediately and call 000 (Triple Zero).”

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