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Battery fires are a growing concern for first responders

electricscooter
Marco Vertch
/
Flickr
It's not only electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries that pose a fire risk, but batteries in rechargeable scooters can also catch on fire if they're damaged.

When people imagine a battery fire, they might think of a Tesla lithium-ion battery burning on the side of the road.

But batteries are everywhere, and they all pose different risks.

Gary Sharp is a partner with Hazard 3, which trains first responders on the latest and best practices to respond to battery fires. Sharp said the response depends on the type of battery and the location and size of the fire.

“This is a huge, huge change in emergency response, and we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg," he said. "We can't even imagine all the changes we're gonna have to make to accommodate the future energy storage.”

Sharp said consumers should be cautious when buying batteries online, as fraudulent batteries are common and may pose a fire risk. He encourages consumers to also learn different battery safety practices like how to store and properly dispose of batteries.

With the increasing energy density and popularity of rechargeable batteries, Sharp said responders should be developing action plans to prepare for different types of battery fires.

“Every time there's a new form of energy, there'll be hazards, and that’s always been the truth," Sharp said. "We're gonna have to get caught up to it. Why now though? It's not sudden, this has been happening, there's a lot of trends coming together here that are bringing this [concern]."

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at https://www.reportforamerica.org/