Lithium-Ion Batteries – Managing the Risk

In a recent edition of the SCA NSW Strata Community & Living Magazine, we published an article from our underwriting partner CHU about managing the risks of Lithium-ion-powered devices in apartments.
The article has proven to be one of the most popular articles ever featured in the SC&L magazine. So, we decided to highlight the feature with a quick overview post.  You can view the whole article in the recent Strata Living & Community Magazine.

Lithium-ion batteries have seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, powering a many everyday items such as smartphones to electric vehicles. Despite their convenience, it’s crucial to recognise the potential risks they pose if not handled properly, especially within strata properties where fire can spread rapidly throughout a building.

In one day, NSW Fire & Rescue responded to a 10-storey apartment block evacuated after an e-bike battery exploded in Bankstown, a blaze set off by an electric vehicle charging station in Berkeley, a garden hedger in Lake Macquarie, and a loose battery in a garbage truck passing through Silverwater.

In March, an exploding battery is believed to have sparked the blaze resulting in loss of life in a townhouse in Teralba near Newcastle.

These recent examples emphasise the necessity for understanding and mitigating these risks, particularly in apartment complexes.

To ensure the safe use of lithium-ion batteries in strata properties, adhering to best practices in safety, usage and storage is imperative. Here are some essential tips for minimising risks:

  • Choose Carefully:
    • Purchase from Reputable manufacturers.
    • Engage qualified contractors for any installations
    • Avoid cheap or counterfeit chargers
  • Check Regularly:
    • Inspect for damage, swelling or leakage
    • Stay Updated on product recalls
  • Use and Store according to Instructions:
  • Dispose Safely
    • Ensure responsible disposal of failed or redundant batteries.
    • Utilise local recycling centres or electronic retailers offering battery recycling programs. Check with your local council, or some stores may also accept battery drop offs.
    • Do not throw batteries into landfill bins for collection.

To minimise fire risks in strata properties, regular fire safety checks should be prioritised by the strata committee. It’s essential to be aware of the mandatory fire safety requirements specific to NSW, ensuring your building complies. Fire safety equipment such as extinguishers, sprinklers, and smoke alarms should undergo regular servicing and maintenance to guarantee their functionality, and fire doors must be kept clear of obstructions.

For further information on the subject: