Fire Fighter Safety in Battery Energy Storage System Fires

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With recent advances in battery technologies and renewable energy, lithium-ion batteries have become one of the leading solutions for large-scale energy storage. The types of catastrophic failures that can occur in all battery systems are amplified by the size and scale of energy storage systems (ESS). The hazards are dependent on the design of the ESS, characteristics of the compartments containing the ESS, and levels of fire protection systems in the structure. Lithium-ion battery energy storage systems (Li-BESS) potentially pose unique hazards to the fire service. It is only through understanding the interaction of the ESS and the building fire protection systems can one assure that the firefighters responding to fires involving such systems and their firefighting tactics are safe. This project aims to reduce the risk to firefighters responding to emergencies involving Li-BESS by improving fire service knowledge of Li-BESS fires and the associated hazards.

Research goal: The overall project goals are to establish a scientific basis for the fire service to develop Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs) for Li-BESS emergencies and disseminate the research findings to the fire service. Deliverables from this project will provide practical resources for the fire service to address these emerging issues.

This research project is by The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) with collaborative support from multiple partners including: Underwriters Laboratory (UL); Energy Storage Safety Products International (ESSPI); and the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF). Funding for this project is through a two-year DHS/FEMA Assistance to Fire Fighter (AFG) Fire Grant with a targeted project completion date of September 2019. The Principal Investigator for this project is Dr. O.A. (DK) Ezekoye (dezekoye@mail.utexas.edu) and senior technical contributor is Dr. Kevin Marr (kevin.c.marr@utexas.edu) both from UT-Austin. Additional technical contributors are: Dr. Judith Jerrvarajan (Judy.Jeevarajan@ul.com) from UL and Ron Butler (esspiron@gmail.com) from ESSPI.

Download the project summary. (PDF)