Batteries, Batteries, Ewaste, Hazardous waste, Opinion

Latest stats highlight surge in fires caused by lithium ion batteries

Lithium ion battery fires

The latest Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) statistics show an increase of nine per cent in Lithium-ion battery fires to date, compared with the entire year of 2022.

Consumers are advised to shop safely as well as for value, to ensure the gifts under the tree do not ruin the festive season.

There have been 180 battery-related fires so far this year, already outnumbering the 165 Lithium-ion battery-related fires to which FRNSW responded to last year.

The NSW Government is raising awareness of how to prevent these potentially deadly fires and save lives. Households are urged to use, store and dispose of batteries safely to combat the surge in house, garbage truck and waste facility fires.

To help ensure batteries are used safely, FRNSW also advises to:

  • not over-charge Lithium-ion batteries or leave them charging overnight unattended;
  • not charge Lithium-ion batteries on beds, sofas or around highly flammable and insulating materials;
  • always use compliant and approved charging equipment for Lithium-ion batteries, don’t mix and match components and voltage;
  • avoid dropping, crushing or piercing the Lithium-ion battery cells;
  • store Lithium-ion batteries in a cool, dry area away from combustible materials, and larger devices like e-bikes and gardening tools should be stored outside of bedrooms and living spaces; and
  • not charge or use Lithium-ion batteries that show signs of damage.

“Firefighters are responding to an average of more than three battery fires a week from in-home charging issues or incorrect disposal. Batteries are featuring more prominently in fire statistics, with lithium power packs and charger fires an increasing concern for fire crews,” said NSW Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib.

“When shopping for gifts this Christmas don’t cut corners when buying Lithium-ion battery-powered products, we don’t want a gift under the tree to ruin the festive season.

“These batteries are used to power everything from mobile phones and laptops to vacuum cleaners and e-scooters. We would encourage people to choose carefully and consider how they use them in the home.

“These fires can cause significant damage to a home and we encourage homeowners to take care when charging devices, follow charging instructions and dispose of used battery products safely. If you are unsure about using batteries, our firefighters are part of the local community and I encourage you to ask their advice.”

“Since March 2023, NSW Fair Trading has conducted inspections of 166 retailers selling electrical articles, including 39 models of e-bikes and e-scooters powered by Lithium-ion batteries. Inspectors found 30 models with non-compliant chargers and the retailers were instructed to remove them from sale,” said NSW Minister for Fair Trading Anoulack Chanthivong.

“When these products fail, it can come at terrible cost. I’m reminding buyers to store batteries safely and if they have concerns they should reach out to the manufacturer or NSW Fair Trading.

“NSW Fair Trading is continuing to inspect products and businesses to inform the public of any concerns and to educate consumers about the dangers of Lithium-ion batteries.”

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