Close call for kids as lithium-ion battery destroys garage

Friday, 22 September 2023 at 4:35 am

Five children home for the school holidays have had a lucky escape after a lithium-ion battery exploded in a Dallas garage yesterday.

Fire Rescue Victoria crews were called to Corinella Crescent just before midday and arrived to find a tin garage engulfed in flames.

The blaze was sparked by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery used in a power tool which had been stored in the garage.

Five children aged 13 years and under were home at the time and called Triple Zero (000) to raise the alarm.

The fire destroyed the garage but thankfully, crews were able to contain it, stopping it from spreading to the home.

The blaze was deemed under control in a little under 30 minutes.

The incident highlights the dangers of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, following a spate of recent fires nationally involving these products.

Victoria’s fire services are responding to at least one significant fire involving lithium-ion batteries each week, with the trend believed to be on the rise as the prevalence of rechargeable battery products increases.

Fire Rescue Victoria Commissioner Gavin Freeman AFSM said lithium-ion batteries can pose a higher risk of fire than other battery types, especially when overheated, damaged or used incorrectly.

“Devices such as tablets, mobile phones, laptops and scooters all contain rechargeable lithium-ion batteries,” Commissioner Freeman said.

“While these technological advancements are making our lives easier, they can also lead to an increased risk if the right precautions aren’t taken.

“Rechargeable batteries can catch fire very easily if they’re overcharged, used with incompatible charging equipment, damaged or poorly maintained.

“These are not ‘set and forget’ items, they need to be supervised and maintained, particularly when charging.”

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said this incident is another reminder that these products should be treated with care and maintained.

“If a fire does occur, you should call Triple Zero (000) immediately and do not attempt to put the fire out yourself,” he said.

Energy Safe CEO Leanne Hughson said Energy Safe was working with fire agencies and safety regulators to make lithium-ion batteries safer but reinforced that consumers play a vital role in promoting their own safety.

“The fires that we have seen have primarily been caused by damaged or modified batteries being charged or incompatible, non-manufacturer approved or aftermarket lithium-ion batteries and chargers being used,” she said

“It’s important to only purchase rechargeable batteries that meet Australian Standards. Products bought online often do not.

“It’s just not worth your family’s safety to save a few dollars.”

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