Shefford fire Image: BFRS

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued a warning to members of the public regarding the safe and proper use of electrical products that use a lithium or lithium-ion battery or charging pack.

At the start of October, crews attended a house fire in Shefford, Bedfordshire where a lithium-ion battery on an electric scooter had overheated and caught fire.

The scooter was unplugged from the charger at the time and had been purchased from eBay the previous day for only £75.00.

On Thursday 11 November, a crew from Dunstable Fire Station attended an incident in Westoning, Bedfordshire where a lithium-ion battery which was stored alongside a vape e-cigarette and further spare batteries in a waist pack caught fire, the fire was extinguished prior to arrival but the casualty did suffer burns to the groin area.

On inspection the lithium batteries did not appear to be from a known manufacturer and were labelled ‘Efest Made in China’.

Station Commander, Steve Fowler who manages the Prevention Team, said:

“Provided that the batteries you are purchasing are manufactured to a high standard and have been subjected to the correct quality checks, there should be no risk of fire.

“However people are seeking out cheaper online retailers who may be importing items and parts from abroad of a lower quality which means the risk of them catching fire due to manufacturing defects is significantly higher.”

Possible causes of lithium battery fires include; physical damage; electrical abuse or overcharging, or exposure to high temperatures.

The battery cell failure will normally result in it getting very hot, venting gas, flaring, catching fire and then exploding.

When purchasing an electrical product that uses a lithium-ion battery, the advice from the Fire service is be sure to:

  • Buy from a reputable retailer – if the price is too good to be true it probably is!
  • Refer to manufacturers guidance on charging and storing
  • Always charge during the day when you are at home
  • Always unplug after use
  • Register electrical items 
  • Avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures
  • Protect batteries against being damaged – that’s crushed, punctured or immersed in water
  • Do not over charge your product – once your item is fully charged, disconnect it and turn the charger off
  • Do not charge these items near to your escape routes and ensure that you have working smoke alarms

For more information, visit the Fire Service’s website