Elmira Fire Dept. Warns Residents About Dangers Of Lithium Ion Batteries

City of Elmira Fire Officials sent out information to the city and county residents starting their concerns about the rising number of fires in the City of Elmira and across the state being caused by lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-Ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that have become extremely popular in all kinds of equipment, from cell phones to bikes and scooters. Unfortunately, the charging process associated with these batteries, especially the bigger e-bike and e-scooter batteries, has been the cause of serious, and even fatal fires in the city and around our region and state.

The batteries can overheat during charging causing a serious fire risk, especially aftermarket replacement batteries and batteries being charged with aftermarket devices that purport to charge the batteries in half the time of a regular charger. People tend to charge these devices where it is convenient, which usually means in an area where the device won’t be stolen. These areas can consist of, but are not limited to; front porches/entryway area, under the stairway to a second-floor apartment, and usually overnight while they sleep so the battery will be charged and ready in the morning. When these batteries overheat and catch fire, it escalates quickly and burns very hot. It is unlikely a resident will be able to extinguish the fire on their own. When the location of the fire blocks the escape path on
the porch or in an entryway, it is very difficult to find an alternate escape route in a short amount of time.

Elmira Fire Department Chief Andrew Mallow says that recently a city resident was forced to jump from a second-story window due to circumstances very similar to this during a fire caused by a lithium-ion battery.

Fire officials from around the state and region also offer other common-sense safety habits to follow when charging or storing lithium-ion batteries:

  • Research any product before you purchase it. Check the reliability and safety
    ratings for the product before you commit to a purchase.
  • Discontinue use of any rechargeable battery that has been damaged and always
    check the condition of your battery after a crash or drop.
  • Charge batteries as far away from exit paths and structures as possible, preferably
    an outdoor area, and only use the charging equipment that came with the battery.
  • Always look for statements that the equipment has passed safety inspections and
    complies with safety standards.
  • If replacement batteries or charging equipment are needed, buy the same model
    from the manufacturer, not a “generic” replacement.
  • Charge the battery when you’re in close proximity so you can keep an eye on the
    charging progress. Unplug the charger as soon as the battery is fully charged.

Mallow says devices like e-bikes and e-scooters may seem like simple children’s toys, but they come with real hazards that demand responsible use and safe practices. parents and guardians need to make sure their children are not modifying equipment or using aftermarket products that increase the fire danger.

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