Wendouree e-scooter fire reminder of lithium-ion battery risk

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Victorian fire agencies are reminding residents to be cautious when charging lithium-ion battery operated devices following an e-scooter house fire in Wendouree on Friday (12 January).

The two-storey townhouse was protected by CFA and FRV crews who arrived quickly, after occupants removed themselves safely due to working smoke alarms.

Wendouree CFA Lieutenant Kenneth Mitchell said an e-scooter was on charge at the time of the call and exploded inside the kitchen and dining area.

“We arrived on scene and immediately removed the hazard from the house to stop the spread in a timely manner, and thankfully were able to halt the fire extending to the house,” Kenneth said.

“These devices can go off quite quickly and violently, so the best way to deal with them is to call Triple Zero at your earliest convenience. A fire extinguisher can be used in the first instance too.

“For firefighters, the only way crews can alleviate the issue is to remove the hazard from the structure and then place it in a bucket of water to cool it down.

“Once in the water it can pose a risk of off gassing, which is the spread of dangerous substances from inside the battery that can be let out when it catches fire.”

The e-scooter scare is a wake-up call for residents right across Victoria, with Victorian fire services responding to lithium-ion battery fires almost every day.

Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Community Safety Kieran Lenehan said Victorians who are considering buying a product with rechargeable batteries should only buy from reputable suppliers and only use chargers supplied with the device.

“When lithium-ion batteries are damaged, misused or fail to meet compliance standards, they pose a serious fire risk, particularly while they are connected to chargers,” ACFO Lenehan said.

“We’re now seeing an increase in the uptake of e-scooters and e-bikes, power tools and general charging devices, so residents must remember to always enact the appropriate safety measures.

“Do not overcharge electric devices, only charge them when required and the safest option is to switch them off overnight before you go to bed. We recommend charging them in the garage, on their own power point.”

CFA Lieutenant Mitchell said that he had noticed that within the district people were plugging too many items into power boards, which can cause them to overheat and catch fire.

While it is the first in the Wendouree region for quite some time, Victorians should not become complacent as they can arise at any time.

/CFA News Release. View in full here.