Firefighters learning how to fight lithium-ion battery fires

Posted at 1:02 AM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 23:27:57-04

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Lithium-ion batteries are presenting new challenges for fighters, especially on roadways. 

Think of an electric car. If one gets in a wreck and the batteries explode, firefighters are faced with a very different type of fire to fight.

The Phoenix Fire Department is educating its crews on fighting lithium-ion battery fires.

"It's literally like candles on a birthday cake at parties, those trick ones," Phoenix Fire Department Spokesman Rob McDade explained. "You blow it out and it reignites and that's new for us."

McDade said the department is in full-on learning mode, constantly updating its tactics to prepare for a new era of technology. 

"We use larger streams to hit the fire, and when it's out, we keep hitting it, keep hitting it, keep hitting it," McDade explained.

Lithium-ion batteries will reignite when drenched and even after it appears the flames are out.

For this reason, McDade said to always let firefighters handle this kind of fire.

Officials advise that if you're in an electric car or near one following a wreck, it's important to stay clear of it and never lift the trunk or hood and try to investigate yourself.