GREENE COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Lithium-ion batteries power so many devices we use daily, but they are also linked to more fires. Fire officials are warning people about how these batteries may seem small but can still cause a massive fire. The most recent fire happened inside a Greene County office full of people right before the weekend.
According to officials, the office employees were in the room Friday afternoon when the fire broke out. But Shaun S. Groden, Greene County Administrator, said everyone acted calm and fast.
“The staff immediately used a fire extinguisher to extinguish the small blaze,” he said. “It never got to the point where the sprinkler system hadn’t engaged. So it was pretty well- quickly contained.”
According to Rob Leonard from the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY), lithium-ion batteries can be found in most electronic devices. Still, not enough people know these batteries can pose a severe fire hazard. Since a lithium battery caused the fire, it released fumes that resulted in fire officials asking staff to clear the building for the rest of the day.
“The battery reaches the end of life, rather than buying a new battery- you try to get it fixed by a person, instead of buying a brand new battery, you buy a used battery,” Leonard said.
Leonard says this is an issue since old batteries are still capable of causing a fire.
Greene County officials say that the specific battery was not being recharged at the time. But they are grateful it happened during business hours.
“What would have happened if that thing went off at 8 p.m. when the building was closed? Certainly, by then, the sprinkler system would have kicked in at that point,” Groden said. “But [fortunately], it happened during operating hours, so we were able to contain it.
Greene County officials plan to create an action report to help prevent another battery-related fire. In the meantime, Leonard says that everyone should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
“The manufacturer recommends a limited lifetime on these devices for a reason. At some point, they begin to break down,” he said. “Even if the battery is a quote smart battery that can judge when it’s been fully charged and stop charging…that function may wear down over time.”
CurreFire officials are still investigating the cause. But the damage from the fire will be repaired within the next two weeks. There are many battery and cellphone recycling locations around the Capital Region, including Home Depot, Walmart, Staples, and Lowes.