How to Put Out a Lithium-Ion Battery Fire

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Lithium-ion batteries are commonplace in a whole host of applications. From smartphones to laptops, the majority of electronic devices will include lithium-ion batteries, meaning workplaces throughout the country are likely to include copious amounts of them. 

While they’re extremely useful, they also present a fire risk. Primarily, careless waste management of these batteries has been known to result in the breakout of fire, with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) stating that almost half (48%) of waste fires are caused by lithium-ion batteries each year.

With these alarming figures in mind, it’s important that commercial organisations understand how lithium-ion battery fires occur and how to correctly and safely put them out.     

The team here at KW Fire Protection has put together a guide outlining everything you need to know about lithium-ion battery fires, helping you to enhance your commercial fire safety.   

What are lithium-ion batteries used for?

As previously mentioned, lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in a variety of electronic devices. This includes mobile phones, laptops, tablets and much more. As well as things that you’d likely find in an office environment, a number of household items, such as electronic cigarettes, electric toothbrushes and power tools, also include them.  

It’s likely that if you work in an office environment, you’re regularly surrounded by lithium-ion batteries on a daily basis, so understanding the fire risk is imperative. 

How do lithium-ion batteries catch fire?

Now we’ve covered what lithium-ion batteries are used for, let’s take a look at how they catch fire. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that any batch of batteries that have a defect will be recalled immediately and undergo rigorous safety tests before they’re released to the public. 

However, there are still a few ways in which they can catch fire. These include:

  • If they’re damaged 

Lithium-ion batteries are extremely small, meaning if not handled appropriately it’s easy for them to sustain damage. Any bashes or bangs, such as dropping an electronic device, can cause the battery to short circuit and trigger a blaze.

  1. If they get hot

We’ve all been there. Our device is getting a little old and can get hot to handle after extensive use. While a phone or laptop rising in temperature is often a sign that it’s probably past its best, it can also be a fire risk. This is because an increase in temperature can make the cells within the battery ignite.

  1. If they’re overcharged 

Another common way in which lithium-ion batteries set on fire is if they’re overcharged. Charging devices when it’s not necessary can, on rare occasions, cause the cells to increase in temperature and set on fire.        

How to put out a lithium-ion battery fire

If you are exposed to a lithium-ion battery fire, it’s important that it is extinguished as soon as possible in order to best protect your property and the safety of those on the premises. However, only attempt to tackle the fire if it’s small, manageable and you’re not putting yourself at risk. If you have any doubts or the blaze begins to get out of control, evacuate immediately and dial 999.

If you have fire suppression systems in place, they can assist with extinguishing a fire. However, the quickest and most effective way to prevent a fire from spreading is to use a fire extinguisher, and we’ll cover this in the next section.              

What fire extinguisher should be used on a lithium-ion battery fire?

Due to the specific nature of this type of fire, a specialist lith-ex fire extinguisher should be used. These extinguishers use an AVD (Aqueous Vermiculite Dispersion) substance to help combat a fire. This involves the use of a mist of chemicals that coat the battery cells and stop oxygen from furthering the blaze.

At KW Fire Protection, we provide our client with a wide range of fire extinguishers, including lith-ex units.    

How to prevent lithium-ion battery fires

The best way to protect your property from a lithium fire is to make sure one does not break out in the first place. There are a number of mitigations you can take to prevent a fire from beginning. 

These include:

  • Storing lithium-ion batteries in a fire resistant container
  • Do not store the batteries in hot environments 
  • Not disposing of lithium-ion batteries in general waste 
  • Be careful when handling devices that include the batteries to avoid dropping them
  • PAT test employees’ personal electronics to ensure they’re safe
  • Only purchase lithium-ion batteries from reputable suppliers
  • Immediately dispose of batteries that have visible signs of damage 


At KW Fire Protection, we’re experts in all areas of commercial fire safety, providing clients throughout Manchester, Oldham and Bolton with a wide range of fire safety applications and products. To find out how we can make your organisation safer, get in touch with our team today.   

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