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It’s time to ‘Take C.H.A.R.G.E. of Battery Fire Safety’

FSRI’s new lithium-ion battery safety campaign includes key resources to help firefighters respond to li-ion battery fires

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By Becki Rowan-White, battalion chief, Chanhassen (Minnesota) Fire Department

UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) recently launched a lithium-ion battery safety campaign just in time for the holiday shopping season. The campaign contains messaging and resources to share with communities as well as training resources to equip the fire service to respond to fires involving lithium-ion battery-powered devices.

FSRI is calling on all members of the fire service to “Take C.H.A.R.G.E. of Battery Safety” in the station, at home and in the community, from the initial product purchasing to disposing of the product when it is no longer wanted or safe to use. Each letter of “C.H.A.R.G.E.” stands for a different safety measure that is easy to remember:

C – Choose certified products

  • When purchasing lithium-ion battery-powered devices, look for products that are listed or safety-certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory to ensure that they meet important safety requirements.

H – Handle with care

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Only use the charging equipment that comes with the product.
  • Store batteries away from extreme temperatures, direct sunlight, exits, and anything flammable.
  • Charge larger devices like eBikes away from your exit path and outside your home if possible.
  • Do not charge larger devices overnight.

A – Always stay alert for warning signs

  • Check battery-powered devices often for damage or abuse such as swelling or punctures.
  • Listen for unusual hissing or popping sounds.
  • Watch out for excessive heat or a strange odor.
  • If you notice any of these warning signs, stop using the lithium-ion battery-powered device immediately.
  • Watch for white or gray wispy smoke, as this indicates there is immediate danger of fire.

R – Recycle battery-powered devices properly

  • Responsibly dispose of old or damaged batteries by taking them to the nearest battery recycling center.
  • Never discard batteries, chargers, or battery-powered devices in regular trash bins.

G – Get out quickly if there’s a fire

  • Know the warning signs to look and listen for and get out if you see – or hear – them.
  • Follow your home fire escape plan to leave immediately and call 9-1-1.

E – Educate others about battery safety

  • Now that you know what actions to take, spread the word about lithium-ion battery safety and help protect your friends and loved ones.

Fire department resources

The number of fire incidents, injuries, and fatalities involving lithium-ion battery-powered devices has increased over the past decade, proving that if your department has not responded to a fire involving lithium-ion powered devices yet, it’s only a matter of time. FSRI offers several resources for fire department personnel to help them better understand lithium-ion-powered devices and how they impact fire behavior:

  • Intro Guide to Batteries: This short guide sheds light on lithium-ion battery construction, the basics of thermal runaway, and potential fire and explosion hazards.
  • Science of Fire and Explosive Hazards: This online course provides actionable insights from the foundational research conducted to date, including a review of lithium-ion battery components, thermal runaway, and how fire and explosion hazards can develop.
  • Near Miss Considerations: This course focuses on a deflagration incident at a lithium-ion battery energy storage system facility in Surprise, Arizona. The course shares analysis and recommendations to improve codes, standards and emergency response training to protect first responders, maintenance personnel and nearby communities.
  • e-Mobility Research: This resource details a study of e-mobility device fire safety, in partnership with FDNY.
  • Impacts of Batteries on Fire Dynamics: This video explores explosion hazards from li-ion battery thermal runaways in residential garages.

Spread the word

Once your members have increased their knowledge on these risks, take the science to the streets by educating your community. You can find free, downloadable resources to print or order at cost to share. While this messaging can stand alone, this is an opportunity to include an emerging topic within your current and future community outreach efforts.

If you would like to create custom content for your department utilizing the Take C.H.A.R.G.E. logo, email FSRI.

FSRI is a great partner in research, firefighter training, and also public education messaging. Not only does the material provide clearly laid out safety measures, the team provides the science-based “why” behind them.

Check out to get started.

About the author
Becki Rowan-White is a battalion chief with the Chanhassen (Minnesota) Fire Department.