LEOMINSTER — The sprinkler system in a Leominster business controlled a lithium-ion battery fire yesterday, preventing what could have been serious damage in the early-morning hours, said Leominster Fire Chief Robert A. Sideleau II and State Fire Marshal Jon M. Davine.
The Leominster Fire Department responded to an alarm activation at a manufacturing business at 501 Lancaster St. shortly before 5:00 yesterday morning. On arrival, they observed smoke but no fire. Firefighters made entry, searched for any injured parties, and ensured that the fire was fully extinguished. On further examination, they found that an overhead sprinkler head had activated, suppressing the fire.
An investigation by the Leominster Fire Department, Leominster Police Department, and State Police assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office determined that the fire was accidental started with lithium-ion batteries that had overheated on a workbench.
“If they’re abused, overheated, or overcharged, lithium-ion batteries can start a fire that explodes in smoke, flames, and toxic, flammable gases,” said Chief Sideleau. “These batteries power devices we use at home every day, from phones and laptops to power tools and outdoor equipment. It’s important to charge, use, and store these devices safely. Always use the manufacturer’s charging equipment. Charge the device on a hard and stable surface, not a bed, couch, or pillow. Disconnect the device when it’s fully charged, and store it at room temperature, not in direct sunlight, a hot car, or freezing temperatures.”
“The sprinkler system at this site operated exactly as intended,” said State Fire Marshal Davine. “It effectively extinguished a fire and prevented serious damage or injury. Tragically, none of the 31 Massachusetts residents who died in fires at home last year had that protection. If you’re buying or building a home, choose one with fire sprinklers. There is no faster or more efficient way to control a serious fire until firefighters arrive.”
Yesterday’s incident was the second lithium-ion battery fire to be extinguished by a sprinkler system in recent weeks. On January 4, the Woburn Fire Department responded to a commercial site for an alarm activation to find that the building’s sprinkler system had effectively suppressed a fire that started with a chemical reaction involving lithium-ion batteries.
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