Increased Lithium-Ion Battery Fires Prompts Release of New Fire Safety Guidelines

Jul 5, 2023 by Kevin Maher

An increase in the amount of lithium-ion battery yacht fires has prompted The United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to release new fire safety and storage guidelines of small electric powered craft on yachts. 

Industry groups have estimated 16 total losses due to fire between August 2021 and August 2022, with the source of around half of these fires yet to be known. One potential source for the fires, among many others, could be lithium-ion battery fires. There has been an increase in ownership of electric tenders, jet skis, eFoils, and other watercraft, which are powered by lithium-ion batteries rather than fueled by petrol. MCA’s new guidelines have taken into consideration that the fire prevention, detection, and suppression measures of the petrol generation are not always viable for lithium battery powered crafts.

The new guidelines for storage and charging detail that craft should be stored in spaces that, as a minimum, comply with requirements of Part A of the REG yacht code. Keeping track of humidity limitations, temperature ranges, and maintenance requirements while storing crafts and batteries is pertinent as well. Any damaged craft or batteries should be handled with extreme caution, and damaged batteries should not be charged again.

The guidelines’ crew training section advocates for crew to not only be trained in the safe operation, storage, and charging of electric watercraft, but in the ability to dispose damaged equipment or batteries. Since Li-ion batteries are difficult to extinguish once ablaze, crew should become educated in identifying early signs of battery problems before they become a hazard to the vessel. The correct response measures should also be taught, including the use of specialist equipment like Li-ion specific fire extinguishers and IR cameras.

For the full list of MCA’s new guidelines, click here.

Triton covered a seminar regarding the “hot” topic of lithium-ion battery fires during the International Superyacht Society’s Leadership Series ahead of the Palm Beach Internaitonal Boat Show. Click here for the full story.

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About Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is Triton's editor-in-chief.

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