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Fire Chief John S. Butler Testifies on the Fire Hazards of Lithium-Ion Batteries, Calls for Immediate Action

Chief Butler and Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, Emergency Management & Technology Subcommittee Chair, pushing for crucial advancements in lithium-ion battery fire safety.

McLean, VA - In testimony before the Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology of the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, Fire Chief John S. Butler, President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), highlighted the urgent need to address the increasing fire hazards posed by lithium-ion batteries and other emerging threats to fire safety.

Chief Butler stressed the critical gap in the nation's preparedness to tackle fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. "America’s fire and emergency service is approximately five years behind in addressing the complex challenges presented by lithium-ion batteries," Butler remarked. He called for federal assistance to enhance local fire departments' ability to respond effectively to these incidents.

Lithium-ion batteries, integral to powering a wide range of devices from electric vehicles to mobile phones, have been linked to a rising number of fire incidents across the country. These fires not only pose significant risks to public safety but also present unique challenges for fire and emergency services due to their intensity, duration, and the toxic smoke they produce.

Chief Butler also pointed out the necessity for better data collection on lithium-ion battery fires, the development of codes and standards to prevent the entry of faulty batteries into communities, training to help fire departments respond to incidents involving lithium-ion batteries and increased public education on the safe handling and storage of devices powered by these batteries.

The IAFC President underscored the need for legislative action, including the swift passage of the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act and the Fire Grants and Safety Act, to set safety standards and ensure the availability of resources for local fire departments. "The sooner Congress acts, the faster we can start to prevent unsafe lithium-ion batteries from being on America’s streets and in American homes," Butler emphasized.

"We stand at a critical juncture where the promise of a greener, cleaner society with lithium-ion technology must be balanced with the imperative to protect our communities from the associated fire risks. We must act now to mitigate these hazards through legislation, education, and improved emergency response capabilities," concluded Butler.

The IAFC is committed to working closely with all stakeholders to promote the safe adoption of lithium-ion battery technology and ensure the safety and preparedness of fire and emergency services nationwide.

View Testimony (PDF)

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials response, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest best practices and services available for first responders. In 2023, the IAFC proudly commemorates its 150th anniversary.

Pete Piringer | Public Information Officer
240-672-4871 | ppringer@iafc.org

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