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Horsham fire prompts lithium-ion battery warning

Businesses are being urged to consider how they store and use lithium-ion batteries in the workplace to reduce fire safety risks.

The warning comes after a fire at Swan Walk in Horsham on Wednesday (4 October) which crews from Billingshurst, Crawley and Horsham responded to.

Upon arrival firefighters quickly got to work and extinguished the fire after finding smoke issuing from both the ground floor and first floor of the commercial premises. Fortunately, the premises had working smoke alarms fitted which alerted Joint Fire Control of the incident early on.

A fire investigation has concluded the most likely cause of the fire was lithium-ion batteries within a smartphone.

Darren Wickings, Station Manager for Policy (Strategic Risk and Improvement), said: “Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that are commonly found in household electrical items, such as mobile phones, laptops, vapes and e-bikes. The device you’re reading this on probably uses lithium-ion batteries.

“Their popularity and extensive use have resulted in fire and rescue services across the nation attending more and more battery-related fires, and we’re no different here in West Sussex.

“It’s always concerning when new fire risks and trends emerge, but it’s important to note that most of these fires are preventable. There are several safety measures that businesses can implement to protect their livelihood and prevent their work from becoming a victim of fire.”

Tips for preventing lithium-ion battery fires at your workplace:

  • Keep batteries away from flammable materials.
  • Store batteries in an enclosed outdoor area, making sure temperatures are maintained and don’t become very hot or cold.
  • Protect batteries from becoming damaged; do not use if they look physically damaged.
  • Safely dispose of old batteries at your nearest recycling centre as old batteries are more likely to start a fire.
  • Never charge or store batteries on your escape route.
  • Use the charger supplied with the device or recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Avoid leaving chargers unattended when in use and unplug at the mains when device is fully charged.
  • Small business owners can find out more about their legal duties for fire safety in the workplace by using our interactive business fire safety awareness tool.

For more information click here.

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