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Energy on the Go, But Fire Around the Corner? Lithium Batteries and Fire Risk

5 min read

Michael Coker: – STRATARAMA

Power on the go!

That’s the only job batteries owe us: to provide modern humans with the convenience of electricity in a handy, portable form. The only problem is that most batteries run flat quickly, and you must discard them if you don’t have a specialized charger.

This culture leads to billions of disposable batteries being thrown away yearly. A habit that’s equally hard on your pocket and bad for our environment.

One common solution being taken up routinely is the use of rechargeable (Lithium) battery! A lithium battery is like a rechargeable water tank for your electronics. It holds a special type of liquid that stores lots of energy and releases it slowly to power your devices.

This liquid uses lithium metal, which makes these batteries so powerful and compact. They power everything from electric cars to computers, smartphones, and other gadgets. In particular you will see such batteries in items such as Portable Scooters. Unfortunately, this comes with significant risks, particular for Fire, especially if left on charge, or poor quality/ cheap batteries are being charged.

In recent times there has been many incidents of such batteries causing damage to people or property. In April 2024 an e-scooter battery fire erupted at the Oaks Embassy involving creating significant damage not just from the fire, but also the water from the sprinkler systems in the apartments. See the below links to the story:


Understanding Fire Risk with Lithium Batteries

While generally safe under normal use, lithium-ion batteries can overheat and ignite under certain conditions. These fires can be intense, releasing toxic fumes and seriously threatening your property and safety.

Several factors can contribute to the risk of a lithium battery fire; however, four instances are stated below.

Overheating or Extreme Temperatures

Exposure to direct sunlight, heat sources, or even storing them in a hot car can elevate temperatures dangerously, increasing the risk of fire.

Overcharging or Faulty Chargers

Using incompatible chargers or leaving batteries plugged in after they’re full can lead to overcharging, another significant fire hazard.

Physical Damage

Punctures, crushing, or bending of the battery can cause internal damage and trigger a fire [2, 3]. You want to avoid this scenario.

Manufacturing Defects

Faulty batteries can malfunction and overheat even under normal use. While not common, it is also an issue.

These risks above (i.e., mechanical, electrical, and thermal abuse) lead to what is known as a “Thermal Runaway.” The event occurs when a cell within the battery overheats, releasing energy that further heats surrounding cells.

The energy created leads to a dangerous chain reaction, i.e., several events triggered by the same initial event, escalating the fire’s intensity.

Safety Tips to Keep Lithium Battery Packs

Thankfully, here are a few actions you can practice to reduce the risk of having a lithium battery fire:

Use Approved Chargers
Always use a certified replacement charger or the one supplied with your device.

Charge on Flat, Heat-Resistant Surfaces
Avoid charging your devices on/near flammable surfaces (e.g., carpets, beds, cardboard, etc).

Don’t Leave Batteries Charging Unattended
Avoid charging your devices overnight – if you can.

Store Batteries Properly
Keep them in cool, dry locations away from heat sources and direct sunshine.

Invest in Safety Measures
Install fire extinguishers and smoke detectors designed to put out lithium battery fires. They are crucial additions to your home safety plan.

Examine Batteries Regularly
Inspect visually for damage, swelling, or leaks. If you observe these visual cues, dispose of damaged batteries appropriately (see below).

How you should Safely Dispose your Old Batteries

Lithium batteries should never be thrown in regular trash because incineration or improper disposal at landfills can damage them, increasing the fire risk [1]. Check with your local waste management authority for designated lithium battery recycling locations.

Note: even small batteries can cause significant damage.

Are these concerns real?

The concerns around these batteries is of such a concern that in 2023 the ACCC released a paper about it, which can be read here:

The Future of Lithium Battery Safety

Researchers are constantly working on improving lithium battery safety.

This process includes developing more fire-resistant materials, improved battery safety circuits, and early warning systems to detect potential problems.

As our reliance on lithium batteries grows, so does the need for ongoing safety education and responsible practices.

By understanding the risks and taking necessary precautions, you can harness the power of lithium batteries without compromising your safety.


It is important to note that even in the event that your property is adequately insured and has the correct levels of cover in place. No one wants the fall out from an insurance claim. Potentially higher excesses, high premiums as a result of the costs of the claim paid out resulting from fire and water damages (sprinklers/ Fire brigade). This talk about insurance doesn’t even take into consideration the real concerns which is of course the genuine risk of bodily harm or even loss of life that a fire can cause.

Two of the Insurers who regularly deal with Strata and Community Titled properties both in South Australia and Australia, CHU and SCI have both issued information about these batteries on their webpages. Both are referenced below for your reading:


CHU | Mitigating risks of lithium-ion battery usage in strata properties

CHU | Lithium Battery Factsheet


SCI | Understanding and managing lithium-ion battery risks

SCI | Lithium Batteries Warning

Other References

  1. Consumers urged to use and store lithium-ion batteries safely to prevent deadly fires | ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] (
  2. Lithium-ion-batteries – DFES [Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Western Australia] (
  3. Lithium battery fires | Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (
  4. Lithium-ion battery fires – WorkSafe Victoria (
  5. Woodford, C. (2023, September 11). How do lithium-ion batteries work? Explain That Stuff.
  6. Chain Reaction. (2024, April 4). Merriam-Webster Dictionary.,reactions%20of%20the%20same%20kind

If you have any questions about strata management in Adelaide contact us at:


08 8276 0426

It’s your Community.

 This article and the information provided represents general advice and does not take into account any specific financial situations, objectives or needs of an individual or Body Corporate/ Strata Corporation. Before you make any decision about whether to acquire a certain product, you should read the relevant product disclosure statement, policy wording and/or consult your Insurer.


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