Patronis pushes for national safety standards on lithium-ion batteries

by | May 16, 2024

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis introduced several measures on Thursday to enhance firefighter safety against lithium-ion battery fires.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced a series of  measures on Thursday aimed at enhancing the safety of firefighters dealing with the increasing threat of lithium-ion battery fires.

The initiatives include the development of new standards and protocols, federal legislative support, and an upcoming symposium dedicated to the issue.

“As a nation, we must get ahead of the hazards posed by battery-related fires that threaten the safety of Americans and our firefighters, and Florida is happy to lead the way,” Patronis said.

In addition to state-level actions, Patronis called on Congress to support the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act. This legislation would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish safety standards for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in various devices. Patronis cited the 268 fires in New York City in 2023, which resulted in 150 injuries and 18 fatalities, as evidence of the urgent need for federal intervention.

The CFO announced that the Department of Financial Services will begin rulemaking regarding preemptive measures and specialized training surrounding these batteries.

He also urged Congress to pass the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act, which aims to establish comprehensive safety standards and protocols for these batteries. 

To address these concerns, the Department of Financial Services’ Division of State Fire Marshal is organizing a symposium focused on lithium-ion battery safety. Building upon the success of last year’s event, which brought together industry leaders and first responders, the forthcoming event will emphasize additional training opportunities, including live EV fire demonstrations for firefighters. 

Lithium-ion batteries are found in everyday essentials such as electric vehicles, scooters, golf carts, and various electronic devices. However, exposure to saltwater for any of these batteries can easily lead to rapidly spreading fires. Unfortunately, Floridians face heightened risk due to the prevalence of saltwater coasts in the state.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, first responders faced increased challenges as they not only contended with the devastating effects of the storm but also with 20 fires sparked by flooded electric vehicles.
“The rulemaking process taking place today is a huge step in the right direction for the safety of Florida’s first responders and Florida residents,” Florida Professional Firefighters President Bernie Bernoska said.


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