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Florida CFO & Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis Announces Initiatives to Protect Firefighters from Battery Fires

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Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) had started rulemaking to develop new standards and protocols for managing lithium-ion battery fires in devices such as electric vehicles (EVs), scooters, and golf carts. The CFO is also calling on Congress to increase safety measures for first responders fighting fires caused by salt-water compromised lithium-ion batteries devices by supporting the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act. Additionally, the CFO announced the DFS Division of State Fire Marshal (SFM) will be hosting a Lithium-Ion Battery Symposium. Last year, the SFM held its first 2-day Lithium-Ion Battery Symposium where firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and other emergency service partners were able to meet with industry leaders to discuss safe handling and emergency response techniques.

“Today, we started rulemaking to establish standards for dealing with EV fires,” CFO Jimmy Patronis said. “Lithium-ion batteries are the energy sources of our time and it’s an amazing technology. Unfortunately, while there are benefits to Lithium-ion batteries, there are dangerous drawbacks too. During Hurricane Ian, we witnessed about 20 occasions where EVs that had been flooded by saltwater, caught fire. It is important that Floridians understand the dangers of technologies powered by lithium-ion batteries, especially if they live in coastal communities. Once these fires begin, they can spread quickly and become extremely difficult for firefighters to put out. The danger is known, it is real, and the time to act is now. With the rulemaking underway, we will be able to provide Floridians and first responders with substantial safety protocols when it comes to handling lithium-ion battery related fires.”

The CFO also urged Congress to take steps in protecting firefighters from EV fires.  

The CFO said, “EV fires are on the rise and are becoming a concern nationwide, particularly all along the saltwater-line coasts of the eastern seaboard, and that’s why I’m urging Congress to support the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act. This bill requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in e-micromobility devices. In 2023, New York City alone experienced 268 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries leading to 150 people injured, and 18 fatalities. As a nation, we must get ahead of the hazards posed by battery-related fire that threaten the safety of Americans and our firefighters, and Florida is happy to lead the way.

“I’m also excited to announce that the DFS Division of State Fire Marshal will be hosting another Lithium-ion battery symposium this year. Last year’s 2-day symposium was a huge success which brought together stakeholders, including EV company representatives, to discuss what the future looks like for lithium-ion battery powered EVs and fire safety. This year’s symposium will promote additional training with firefighters which will include live EV fire training demonstrations. Working together with safety experts and business leader from around the country, we can learn to fight and prevent these fires to better protect consumers from harm.”

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“Florida’s firefighting professionals have had no better friend than CFO Jimmy Patronis,” Florida Professional Firefighters President Bernie Bernoska said. “The rulemaking process taking place today is a huge step in the right direction for the safety of the Florida’s first responders and Florida residents. Fires caused by lithium-ion batteries can be devastating, and needs to be addressed not only in Florida, but throughout the country. I look forward to continuing the work of protecting consumers and firefighters from battery fires.”

Florida Fire Chief Association President Harold Theus said, “Lithium-ion battery fires are increasing, and Floridians need to know just how important it is to exercise reasonable care when storing devices that depend on these batteries. If you are charging a e-bike, e-scooter, or golf cart, it is recommended that you charge the devices outside if possible and keep them spaced out when stored. Thank you to CFO Patronis for bringing awareness to these fires and for working to keep our first responders safe.”

“Today was a great day for Florida’s firefighters,” Orlando Fire Chief Charlie Salazar said. “hanks to CFO Patronis, we will finally have protocols on the books that will better protect our firefighters in the field. As this issue begins to garner more attention nationwide, I am excited to work with fire professionals across the country to develop better techniques on how to stop these fires and save lives.” 

“Once again, Florida leads the way in crafting new solutions to emerging problems,” Florida House Representative Carolina Amesty said. “My thanks to CFO Patronis for ensuring that our first responders have adequate tools and information to prevent these lithium-ion battery fires.”


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