Do lithium battery fire extinguishers work?
Your workplace is home to an increasing number of lithium-ion batteries. They can be found in phones, computers, EV charging stations, electric vehicles, scooters and power tools, emergency lighting, and many more applications. The incidence of battery fires is increasing. Lithium-ion battery fire extinguishers have been tested and available in Australia for over 2 years. They are expensive, have limited effectiveness, and are not recommended by the CFA
How do Lithium-ion battery fires start?
Fire or explosion may occur when a lithium-ion battery is overcharged, overheated, short-circuited or damaged. Compared to standard batteries, lithium-ion batteries are much more vulnerable to high temperatures and more flammable.
How do Fire Extinguishers work?
Generally, fire extinguishers work by removing one of the 3 critical elements that keep a fire burning – oxygen, heat, and fuel. Lithium-ion batteries burn at very very high temperatures, producing toxic gases, and do not require oxygen to burn. I will say that again – lithium-ion battery fires do not require oxygen to burn. In simple terms, Lithium battery fire extinguishers work by removing heat from the burning fuel.
Australian Standards for Lithium Battery Fire Extinguishers.
Reputable lithium battery fire extinguishers comply with the Australian Standard AS 1841.2 for class A, B, and F fires. That is they are tested for Class A flammable materials, (e.g. paper, wood), Class B flammable liquids (3.g.paint, petrol), and Class F cooking fats and oils. This standard does not include lithium-ion batteries.
There has been extensive testing of lithium battery fire extinguishers. They have been shown to have performed well against 2.4kWh and 4.8kWh Lithium-ion battery fires(* source: fireextinguisheronline.com.au). However, there is currently no specific Australian Standard for Lithium Battery Fire Extinguishers. That is, no fire extinguisher is guaranteed to put out a lithium-ion battery fire.
there is no fire extinguisher that is guaranteed to put out a lithium-ion battery fire
A Lithium-ion fire extinguisher should not be used on AC Power electrical fires. If a burning battery is connected to a power point or charger, you must turn off the power. Lithium-ion fire extinguishers are water-based and can conduct electricity
What do our Experts say?
Fire Rescue Victoria recommends Fireboss fire suppression technology and the trained, professional use of a MetalEX Extinguisher (Orange) with a large wand, and very large Fire Blankets (6m x 8m)
CFA does not recommend the current Lithium-ion battery Fire Extinguishers
Peter Bates – owner of Pand J Fire Services supports the CFA position. At this stage, until there is a verified Australian Standard and vigorously tested extinguisher solution, Peter Bates will not recommend or sell you a non-approved product.
Ring Peter to discuss your Fire Safety needs
ph 0430 666 877