FAQs on Managing Lithium-ion Batteries in Strata

Lithium-ion batteries continue to be a trending topic in strata, sparking discussions about safety, insurance and management. Recently, Alistair Gibney (Body Corporate Brokers), Tony Irvine (SCA NSW President), David Bannerman (Bannermans Lawyers) and Rob Broadhead (2020 Fire Protection) shared their insights in a webinar hosted by SCA NSW.

Here are the key FAQs asked during the webinar:

Where are Lithium-ion Batteries Found? 

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in cars, e-bikes, e-scooters and other electronic devices. They can be categorised into two main groups: batteries for cars and batteries for e-bikes and e-scooters. Among these, e-bikes and e-scooters pose a higher risk in strata buildings due to their higher flammability and tendency to catch fire when the cells are damaged. 


Do Lithium-ion Battery Explosions Change the Landscape for Insurers in Strata? 

Yes, insurers are increasingly focusing on the installation and management of these batteries in strata buildings to assess and mitigate financial risk. From an insurance point of view, key challenges include: 


  • Diverse applications and uses of lithium-ion batteries. 
  • Variability in operational conditions and risk factors. 
  • Complexity in establishing uniform safety measures. 
  • Lack of standardised regulations and standards. 
  • Challenges in fire control and environmental risks. 
  • Difficulty in implementing intervention procedures during fires or explosions. 
  • Limited historical data. 


What Should You Do to Mitigate Lithium-ion Battery Risks?

To mitigate the risks associated with lithium-ion batteries, you should: 

  • Implement evacuation plans to ensure there are escape routes in the event of a battery fire. NSW Fire and Rescue can assist in developing these plans (Click here for more information). 
  • Establish by-laws to regulate the use of lithium-ion batteries, particularly for e-bikes and e-scooters.  
  • Avoid installing EV charging stations in basements as they do not provide optimal fire protection. 


What Should You Tell Residents to Do in the Event of an EV Fire?

Strata managers should advise residents to: 

  • Keep e-scooters and e-bikes in spaces far away from living areas, as the time from ignition to a major fire is very short. 
  • Ensure that e-scooters and e-bikes are not stored in places that block escape routes. 


If a By-Law Prohibits E-scooters and E-bikes in the Building, can the Owners Corporation Designate a Safe Area for Them?


Yes, a by-law can be created to establish an external charging box. This box can contain any fires caused by battery ignitions, limiting damage to the box itself rather than the entire building. You can also implement other by-laws to regulate the use, location and management of lithium-ion battery vehicles to improve safety in your scheme.