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Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Pose a Fire Risk?

Mar 14, 2023

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are in widespread use in consumer electronics. Lithium batteries have become the industry standard for rechargeable storage devices. Lithium batteries are generally safe and unlikely to fail, but only so long as there are no defects, and the batteries are not damaged or mistreated.  Despite their many advantages, lithium-ion batteries have the potential to overheat, catch fire, and cause explosions. So the answer is yes; lithium-ion batteries can pose a fire risk.

Fires involving lithium-ion battery-powered devices have been increasing at an alarming rate and have resulted in numerous injuries and fatalities. When people store and charge their devices inside their homes, garages or businesses, there is the potential for battery fires that lead to structure fires.

Common devices:

  • cameras
  • cell phones
  • e-bikes
  • e-cigarettes
  • e-scooters
  • hover boards
  • laptops
  • power tools
  • “smart” luggage
  • toothbrushes
  • toys

The problem:

  • These batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space.
  • Sometimes batteries are not used the right way; batteries not designed for a specific use can be dangerous.
  • Like any product, a small number of these batteries are defective. They can overheat, catch fire, or explode.

Safety tips:

Lithium-ion batteries are here to stay. The solution is not to throw away anything with a rechargeable battery, but there are steps to take that will minimize the chances of a fire.

  • Purchase and use devices that are listed by a qualified laboratory, like Underwriters Labs (UL).
  • Always follow the device manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Avoid crushing, bending, or dropping the device and charger.
  • Avoid using a device in a highly damp or humid environment.
  • Only use the battery that is designed for the device.
  • Put batteries into the device correctly.
  • Keep devices and lithium-ion batteries at room temperature.
  • Store lithium-ion batteries away from anything that can catch fire.
  • Do not place lithium-ion batteries in direct sunlight or keep them in hot vehicles.
  • Only use the charging cord that came with the device.
  • Avoid excessive charging.
  • Don’t charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or on a couch.
  • Remove the batteries from an e-cigarette before placing in a pocket or purse.

Battery Disposal:

  • Do not put discarded lithium-ion batteries in piles.
  • Do not throw batteries in the trash. These batteries are considered Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and should not be placed in the trash.
  • Take the batteries to a recycling center. HHW can be dropped off for free at Spokane County Regional Waste Disposal sites.

Signs of a Problem:

Stop using the device or battery if you notice any of the following problem signs:

  1. Odor
  2. Change in color
  3. Too much heat
  4. Change in shape
  5. Leaking
  6. Odd noises

If any of the above happen and you feel in danger, move the device away from all items and call 9-1-1.

Did you Know?


  • You can sign up for a station tour. Great for small groups.
  • You should replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year.
  • Creating a defensible space with regards to wildfires could just save your home or property.

Media Contact

  • Julie Happy
  • 509-892-4155

Commissioner Patrick Burch

Board Member Since: July 18, 2016
Current term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Burch was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in July 2016 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. He became a volunteer member of the Department’s CERT Team in 2008 and later served as a team leader/member of Fire Corps.

“I admire the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s focus on continuous improvement. Our dedication to the community, fiscal responsibility and the fact that we are one of the few accredited fire departments in the State of Washington all make SVFD great!”

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Burch was elected by voters in November 2017.

Commissioner Mike Kester

Board Member Since: January 1, 2020
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Mike Kester was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners in November, 2019.

Commissioner Kester grew up in the Spokane area and has a deep appreciation for just how fortunate we all are to live in this beautiful area. He believes that being involved in this community is not something to take lightly.

His background includes joining the United States Coast Guard (U.S.C.G) after high school and serving on a port firefighting boat doing search and rescue in Portland, Oregon.  After the Coast Guard, he attended the University of Montana earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Resource Management.  He then went on to work for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, serving in their Parks Department.

Spokane was the next step in his career. He  went to work for the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad and the next 22 years was spent as a conductor moving freight. Commissioner Kester  retired in 2010 after a workplace injury and now,  he and his wife enjoy making meals for World War II Veterans, helping out at the YMCA ,and providing meals for those in need.

“In the 25 years of being a resident of the Spokane Valley the professionalism of the SVFD has inspired me to take an active part in bettering our community. We have one of the best fire departments in the whole Pacific Northwest. My wife and I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I have dedicated my life to keeping them safe.  I want to apply that dedication to our community.  Keeping us all safe is a goal we should all aspire to in one way or another. Communication within the department and with the public is, and always will be one of my primary goals.”

Commissioner John Guarisco

Board Member since: August 27, 2018
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2027

Commissioner Guarisco was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in August 2018 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. Commissioner Guarisco founded Marjoni Marketing in 2004 and in 2010 merged with MDI marketing. He then pursued Real Estate, earning his license and now, currently serves the greater Spokane area as a licensed Realtor. He has long been active in the community and has won numerous awards during his career including the Volunteer of the Year (2014) and the Community Caring Award (2010) from the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.  He is a member of the Greater Spokane Valley Rotary Club and holds an AA degree from Spokane Falls Community College.

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Guarisco was elected by voters in November 2019.

Commissioner Bill Anderson

Board Member since: January 1, 2000
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2023

Commissioner Anderson served our community as a Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighter for 29 years. Throughout his career, he worked as a firefighter, dispatcher and engineer before he was promoted and became an officer. He was Station Captain of Millwood Station 2 when he retired in 1999. During his years as firefighter, he was an active leader of Spokane Valley Firefighters Local 876 and served as a trustee on the Washington State Council of Firefighters for 25 years.

“It’s important to me that we continue the good service we’ve always given the people. We’ve accomplished a lot and are pulling in the same direction to get better. I’m very proud of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.”

Commissioner Brian Asmus

Board Member Since: June 14, 2021
Current term expires: 

Commissioner Brian Asmus was appointed to the Spokane Valley Fire Department Board of Fire Commissioners in 2021.

Commissioner Asmus is the former Liberty Lake Police Chief and current Director of Safety and Security at Central Valley School District (CVSD).

“Brian Asmus brings extensive Public Safety leadership experience, and a long history of being actively engaged in his community to his new role as a SVFD Commissioner,” said SVFD Fire Chief, Bryan Collins. “During his time as a Police Chief, Brian interacted with SVFD firefighters and administrators on a regular basis, making him very familiar with our structure, standing within our communities, as well as with many of our current SVFD board members and personnel. Brian’s experience working and collaborating on regional issues aligns nicely with SVFD’s philosophy and will help us continue to be a catalyst for local and regional excellence and innovation.”