Risk of Lithium Battery Fires

The Increasing Risk of Lithium Battery Fires

In recent years, the prevalence of lithium-ion batteries in everyday devices has surged. These batteries power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles, offering high energy density and long life. However, with this widespread use comes an increasing concern over their safety, particularly the risk of fires.

The London Fire Brigade has reported a worrying trend: a significant rise in fires caused by e-bikes and e-scooters, with a 78% increase in incidents in 2023 alone. This spike is not an isolated occurrence; similar patterns are being observed globally. The primary culprit behind these fires is the lithium-ion batteries that power these devices.

Causes of fires from lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to a phenomenon known as thermal runaway, where the battery’s temperature rapidly increases, leading to fires or even explosions. This can be triggered by several factors:

Overcharging of devices: Exceeding the recommended charge of Lithium-ion batteries can cause overheating.

Physical Damage: Any damage to the battery can disrupt the delicate balance of its internal components, increasing the risk of fire.

Short-Circuiting: Faulty wiring or manufacturing defects can lead to internal short circuits.

Improper Storage: Storing batteries in high-temperature environments or failing to keep them dry can also increase fire risks.

Lithium-ion battery fires impact on Businesses

As more companies integrate devices powered by lithium-ion batteries, the potential for fire hazards increases. Without proper precautions, businesses could face significant safety threats, potentially endangering employees and property. A devastating fire could also jeopardise the running of your business so putting measures in place will help you to safeguard your business’ future.

Safety Measures

To counter these risks, comprehensive risk assessments and safety protocols are essential. Key recommendations include:

Proper Storage: Store batteries in cool, dry environments and avoid stacking them in ways that could cause damage.

Regular Maintenance: Ensure devices and batteries are regularly inspected and maintained to prevent wear and tear that could lead to fires. Implementing Battery Management Systems (BMS) can help monitor battery health and prevent overheating.

Employee Training: Educate staff about the risks and proper handling of lithium-ion batteries to ensure safe practices are followed.

Fire Suppression Systems: Install appropriate fire suppression systems that can handle lithium-ion battery fires, which can be difficult to extinguish with conventional methods.

As the use of lithium-ion batteries continues to grow, so too does the importance of understanding and mitigating the risks associated with them. Businesses must stay vigilant and proactive in their approach to safety, ensuring that the benefits of this powerful technology do not come at the cost of increased fire hazards.

If you would like any further information regarding the fire risks associated with lithium-ion batteries, please contact Sutcliffe & Co Insurance Brokers on 01905 21681 or alternatively email Enquiries@sutcliffeinsurance.co.uk.