Was Medford Fire Caused by Lithium-Ion Batteries? Fire Officials Safety Recommendations!
A 4-alarm fire that occurred in Medford is believed to have been caused by lithium-ion batteries. According to Medford Fire Chief John E. Freedman, Medford Police Chief Jack D. Buckley, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Sunday’s four-alarm fire in Medford is believed to have originated from battery-powered scooters in a first-floor laundry room.
Chief Freedman gave a statement:
“This fire broke out in a densely built residential neighborhood, and I want to thank the Medford firefighters and all our mutual aid partners who worked so hard to contain it. Lithium-ion batteries contain a tremendous amount of power in a small package. When they burn, they bu*n extremely hot, release toxic gases, and can re-ignite even after the fire has been extinguished. It’s vitally important to use, store, and charge them safely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
At around 4:55 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, the Medford Fire Department was dispatched to the neighborhood of 43 Allston Street in response to multiple calls placed to 9-1-1. When the firefighters arrived, they saw considerable fire throughout the two-family, two-story property that contained two apartments.
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Three of the occupants successfully escaped the building, and one had to be taken away from the scene to receive medical treatment. About two and a half hours passed before the fire was brought under control, during which time firefighters att@cked the flames from every aspect of the structure.
The Medford Incident Department, the Medford Police Department, and the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office investigated to determine the origin and cause of the incident.
According to the investigation findings by the Department of fire services, the fire originated in a laundry area on the first floor, where two severely damaged electric scooters were powered by batteries. The tweet related to this update is also linked below:
The @MedfordMass Fire Department and #MutualAid battled a 4-alarm structure fire this weekend. The fire likely started with scooters powered by #LithiumIon batteries. Always use, store, and charge these devices according to manufacturer's instructions: https://t.co/1i0xdNe6iR pic.twitter.com/GY5WsI04S2
— Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (@MassDFS) May 4, 2023
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According to the investigation findings, the fire quickly spread from that point, resulting in significant damage to the structure and forcing all four people to evacuate. One of the surrounding homes suffered damage to its exterior from the heat.
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said:
“Lithium-ion batteries are growing in use, and they power everything from pocket-sized devices to motor vehicles. Choose items that are listed by a nationally recognized testing lab like Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL). The lab’s mark is a sign that the device has been tested to meet certain safety requirements. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the manufacturer’s batteries and charging equipment rather than generic or aftermarket items.”
Fire officials also made the following recommendations for safety requirements:
- Once a battery or gadget is fully charged, unplug it. Only charge one battery or device at a time. Never let a charged battery continue to set.
- Optimizing Outdoor Storage for Scooters and E-bikes Indoor Storage Tip: Keep Batteries and Devices Away from Doors, Windows, and Stairways.
- Wall Outlet Charging: The Best Way to Charge Your Battery Stable Surface Only: A Guide to Proper Placement of Your Device.
- Stop using the battery or device immediately if you detect any abnormalities, such as damage, an unusual odor, a change in color, excessive heat, smoking, or inability to hold a charge.
- Don’t throw the batteries away with the trash when the time comes. It is recommended that lithium-ion batteries be recycled, and you can do so at a given location: https://www.call2recycle.org/locator/.
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