Take C.H.A.R.G.E. of Battery Safety
Globally, fire departments are grappling with a surge in fire incidents linked to lithium-ion battery-powered devices. The unique characteristics of this relatively new technology mean that the failure of a single cell can trigger thermal runaway, resulting in fire and even gas explosions. The rapid growth of this process outpaces that of a typical fire. Occupants may have as little as three minutes to escape a home fire. With incidents involving lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, that escape time can be reduced to less than one minute. With this decrease in time to escape, there is an even greater urgency to make the fire service and public aware of the danger and how to minimize the associated risks.
Both the U.S. fire service and the general public possess a limited understanding of the technology, associated hazards, and the appropriate safety measures to prevent or respond to these types of fires.
To bridge this gap, FSRI conducted a survey and organized a dedicated session on public safety education related to lithium-ion batteries at the May 2023 International Association of Fire Chiefs's (IAFC's) Community Risk Reduction Leadership Conference. The survey revealed that not only did first responders believe the public lacked awareness of the magnitude of this issue, but also that fire professionals themselves required education concerning Li-ion-powered devices. The findings highlighted the need for fire service training and turnkey education materials to share with the public.
Lithium-ion Battery Safety
To help address this need, FSRI has developed the “Take C.H.A.R.G.E. of Battery Safety” campaign. This public fire safety education campaign highlights six main messages aimed at driving safe behaviors among the public related to the use of lithium-ion battery devices. To learn more, visit our website.
“FSRI is continuing our tradition of developing actionable public safety messaging based on our scientific research. As the use of lithium-ion battery-powered devices increases in our daily lives, so will our exposure to the associated hazards. Through the ‘Take C.H.A.R.G.E. of Battery Safety’ campaign, we aim to impact behavior change by partnering with the fire service to educate the public on key actions they can take to prevent these fires from occurring in the first place and, in the event a fire does occur, how to respond.”
- Zoe Susice, Senior Director of Research Amplification of FSRI
- Provide the public and the fire service with key actions and turnkey resources that will help drive best practice behavior to prevent and minimize the hazards of Li-ion fires.
- Educate the fire service on the fire dynamics of Li-ion fires so that they are aware of operational best practices to address these fires and are comfortable educating their communities on evidence-based safety measures.
- Drive national media attention to the issue and to amplify these key messages to impact behavior change.
Through our research, like the collaborative study, ''Examining the Fire Safety Hazards of Lithium-Ion Battery Powered e-Mobility Devices in Homes,'' we are furthering our operational knowledge of how lithium-ion-battery related fires are different from traditional fires. Coupling that knowledge with messaging to the public about how the battery landscape is changing and what that means for fire risk, fire prevention, and fire suppression/mitigation will help advance the safety of our community and our firefighters.
Published: October 18, 2023