Dustin Dienst, Faribault Fire Chief, told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners Monday they have seen an increase in fires started or believed to be started by lithium ion batteries.

Dienst says the batteries are very common because they can deliver a lot of electricity in a compact way.

Dienst says, "Generally, if you have a battery that is rechargeable, it is likely to be a lithium ion battery."

The increase in fires he pointed out is not only in Faribault but across the country.

He emphasized people should not be alarmed by this but should know how to properly care for these batteries.

He outlined some precautions we can take to minimize the risk of fire caused by a battery.

  • Be careful when handling batteries and the equipment they run.
    Internal damage to battery cells caused by dropping the battery or equipment can cause thermal runaway inside the battery that could lead to fire.
  • Only use batteries in a device they were designed for (including chargers).
    Only use a battery that is designed for a specific device.  No swapping batteries!  This includes charges which are specifically designed to charge specific batteries.  Don't mix and match.
  • Do not charge batteries near other flammable materials.
    Many fires involving lithium ion batteries start while the battery is charging.  You can limit the risk of fire by charging batteries in a safe place away from anything flammable. (I have a charger right next to my gas can in the garage)
  • Keep batteries at room temperature.
    Internal damage can occur if batteries are subjected to extreme heat or cold.  If you have equipment that utilizes lithium ion batteries, limit the time using it in extreme temperature conditions.  Also, do not charge or store batteries in direct sunlight as this leads to overheating. (My drill has been in heat and cold in my garage.  I'm thankful there have been no fires.)
  • Do not put lithium ion batteries in the trash.
    Lithium ion batteries should be recycled.  Check out the Rice County Solid Waste Facility website for information about disposal of batteries.

The Faribault Fire Chief indicated this topic will be addressed during the October Fire Prevention Week Open House scheduled for the Faribault Fire Station.

Dienst says if you have questions about any fire safety issue or specifically battery usage don't hesitate to call the Faribault Fire Department at 507-334-8773.

Below is the Monday AM Minnesota program for your education.  We touched on a couple of other topics like steel roofs and solar panels on roofs and their impact on firefighting.


AM Minnesota can be heard Monday through Friday at KDHL 920 AM and 97.9 FM between 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

The program is also typically available on the kdhlradio.com website under the AM Mn On Demand tab at the top of the page.

Jerry Groskreutz should be on this list.

NEXT UP: 10 Famous People from Minnesota


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