Lithium batteries have become an essential part of our lives. From smartphones to electric cars, they power many of the devices we use daily. While they are generally safe, lithium battery fires can occur under certain circumstances.
When a lithium battery catches fire, it can be challenging to extinguish the flames, and if not handled correctly, the situation can quickly escalate.
This blog post will explore tips and strategies for dealing with lithium battery fire incidents.
Knowing how to handle these situations safely is crucial whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner. Read on to learn more.
- 1 Cause Of Lithium Battery Fire
- 2 How To Put Out Lithium Battery Fire
- 3 Conclusion
Cause Of Lithium Battery Fire
Lithium battery fires can be caused by various factors, including:
Overheating: Lithium batteries can generate heat during normal operation, but if they become excessively hot due to overcharging, over-discharging, or external factors like exposure to high temperatures, it can lead to thermal runaway and potential fire.
Physical damage: Physical damage to the battery, such as punctures, impacts, or crushing, can compromise the integrity of the battery’s internal components. This damage can result in short circuits within the battery, releasing heat, sparks, or flames.
Manufacturing defects: Poorly manufactured or faulty lithium batteries may have internal defects or design flaws contributing to fire risk. These defects can include issues with the separator, electrode alignment, or overall cell construction.
Improper usage or handling: Incorrect use or mishandling of lithium batteries can increase fire risk.
This can include improper charging techniques, using incompatible chargers, exposing the battery to extreme temperatures, or subjecting it to excessive mechanical stress.
External heat sources: Placing lithium batteries near heat sources or exposing them to high ambient temperatures can lead to thermal runaway and potential fire. This can occur, for example, if batteries are left in a hot vehicle or exposed to direct sunlight.
Short circuits: Any internal or external factors that cause a short circuit within the battery, such as metallic objects bridging the positive and negative terminals, can generate excessive heat and potentially start a fire.
How To Put Out Lithium Battery Fire
Lithium battery fires can be dangerous and difficult to extinguish, but they can be put out safely with the right tools and techniques.
Here are some steps you can take to put out a lithium battery fire:
Prioritize Your Safety and the Safety of OthersIn any emergency, the most important thing to prioritize is safety.
Whether it’s a fire, a natural disaster, or any other type of emergency, your safety and those around you should always be your first concern.
When it comes to fires, it’s important to understand the severity of the situation and take appropriate action to protect yourself and others.
If the fire is large, spreading rapidly, or poses an immediate danger, evacuate the area and call emergency services.
This may seem like obvious advice, but it can be easy to panic and forget the proper steps in the heat of the moment.
If you’re unsure if you should evacuate, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Remember that fires can spread quickly, and what may seem like a small fire can quickly become a much bigger threat.
When evacuating, stay low to avoid inhaling smoke and toxic fumes. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth or mask to help filter out the smoke.
When exiting a building, use the stairs instead of the elevator, as elevators may malfunction or become trapped during a fire.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If you find yourself needing to put out a lithium battery fire, it is crucial that you first put on appropriate PPE. If available, this may include gloves, safety goggles, and fire-resistant or non-flammable clothing.
Gloves are essential for protecting your hands from the heat of the fire and any sparks that may fly during the firefighting process. Safety goggles are necessary to prevent eye injuries from smoke, flames, or debris.
Fire-resistant or non-flammable clothing can protect you from burns and other injuries.
It is important to note that not all PPE is created equal. When selecting your PPE, ensure it is appropriate for the task.
For example, regular gloves or clothing may not be sufficient to protect against the heat generated by a lithium battery fire. Instead, you may need specialized heat-resistant PPE.
Cut Off The Power Source
One of the first steps when dealing with a lithium battery fire is to cut off the power source.
If it can be done safely, disconnect the power supply to the battery or remove any nearby power sources. This can help prevent the fire from intensifying and spreading further.
When disconnecting the power supply, it is important to take appropriate safety measures to avoid electrocution.
If you are unsure how to disconnect the power source safely, it is best to call a professional to help you do it safely.
In some cases, disconnecting the power source may not be possible. For example, if a lithium battery is embedded in a device, removing it may not be possible.
In such cases, it is important to move the device away from other flammable materials and keep it in a safe place until the fire is put out.
Do Not Use Water
The first rule for putting out a lithium battery fire is to avoid using water. Lithium batteries are highly reactive to water and can worsen the fire.
Water can react with lithium and cause an explosive reaction, which can cause the fire to spread rapidly. Therefore, avoiding using water when trying to extinguish a lithium battery fire is crucial.
Class D Fire Extinguisher
A class D fire extinguisher is one effective way to put out a lithium battery fire. A class D fire extinguisher is designed to handle fires involving combustible metals like lithium.
It works by smothering the flames and preventing the oxygen from reaching the source of the fire.
Before using a class D fire extinguisher, it’s important to read the instructions carefully and follow them closely.
Make sure you are using the correct type of extinguisher for the fire you are dealing with. Using the wrong type of extinguisher can be dangerous and may even worsen the fire.
When using a class D fire extinguisher, aim at the base of the fire while keeping a safe distance.
Avoid getting too close to the flames, as the intense heat can be hazardous. Using the extinguisher in a well-ventilated area is important to prevent the build-up of toxic fumes.
Sand Or Dry Powder
If a class D fire extinguisher is unavailable, you can use sand or a dry powder (such as a dry chemical extinguishing agent) to suffocate the fire.
Carefully pour or throw the material onto the fire, covering it completely. Sand or dry powder smothers the fire, cutting off its oxygen supply. This is an effective way to extinguish a lithium battery fire.
When using sand or dry powder to put out a lithium battery fire, it is crucial to be careful and follow safety precautions.
Firstly, ensure enough sand or dry powder to cover the fire completely. This will suffocate the fire and prevent it from spreading.
However, it is important to note that sand or dry powder should only be used as a last resort.
It is best to call the fire department and evacuate the area until they arrive. Lithium battery fires can be unpredictable and can reignite if not fully extinguished.
Fire Blanket Or Non-Flammable Material
If the fire is small and contained, use a fire blanket or a non-flammable material like a wool or cotton blanket to smother the flames. Using a fire blanket is a simple and effective way to put out a small fire.
Fire blankets are made from a special material designed to extinguish fires quickly. If you have a fire blanket, cover the fire with it and ensure it is completely covered.
Be cautious to avoid exposure to heat or smoke. The fire blanket will cut off the oxygen supply to the fire and smother it. This is a great option for small fires in the kitchen or workplace.
If you don’t have a fire blanket, use a non-flammable wool or cotton blanket to smother the flames.
Ensure that the blanket covers the fire completely and is not exposed to heat or smoke. The non-flammable material will also cut off the oxygen supply to the fire and smother it.
It’s important to note that these methods should only be used on small, contained fires. If the fire is too large or spreading quickly, evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department. Also, never use water on a lithium battery fire, as it can worsen the fire.
Evacuate And Call For Help
The first thing to do when extinguishing a lithium battery fire is to assess the situation. If you are not confident in your ability to put out the fire or if it has become uncontrollable, evacuate the area immediately and call emergency services.
It’s better to be safe than sorry; lithium battery fires can be incredibly dangerous.
If you decide to try and put out the fire yourself, you must take the necessary precautions. Wear protective gear like gloves and goggles to avoid burns or exposure to toxic fumes.
Remove the battery from the device and place it in a non-flammable container, such as a metal bucket or ceramic pot, to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading.
When faced with a lithium battery fire, it is essential to prioritize safety above all else. Water should never be used to extinguish the fire, as it can potentially worsen the situation due to the reactivity of lithium batteries with water.
Instead, it is recommended to use a class D fire extinguisher designed for lithium or metal fires, dry powder extinguishing agents, or sand to smother the flames and deprive the fire of oxygen. A fire blanket or non-flammable material can also cover and suffocate a small, contained fire.
However, evacuation and professional assistance should be sought if the fire is large, spreading rapidly, or poses an immediate danger.
Proper training, following safety protocols, and contacting emergency services is crucial for effectively managing a lithium battery fire while ensuring personal safety.
Hi, I m Aaron Smith, a firefighter, and creator of Firefighterline.com, a website that provides top-notch training courses for firefighting organizations. After completing my studies, I quickly rose through the fire service ranks, eventually becoming Captain at one of the busiest fire departments in the state.