ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – After a News 6 investigation uncovered there are no state regulations for commercially storing lithium-ion batteries, News 6 reached out to every state representative and senator in Central Florida to see if new rules can be created.
Lithium-ion batteries power your phone, car, electric bicycles and scooters. Since there are no rules for storing lithium-ion batteries commercially, it is up to businesses to decide what is safe or not.
JoAnne Rice, the director of the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office, said fires caused by these batteries burn hotter and faster than any fire she’s ever seen. Rice told News 6 Florida has codes and standards in place, but most of the codes run several years behind.
New regulations for commercially lithium-ion batteries were just put in place in New York City. New York City’s mayor signed five bills into law, strengthening fire safety and regulating lithium-ion batteries sold in the city.
“Those batteries that we saw what they did in New York, it can happen here,” said Florida Sen. Linda Stewart, who represents part of Orange County.
Stewart said she is looking into options to help get results. Her office is considering drafting a bill or proposing a rule change for safely storing lithium-ion batteries commercially. That rule change would go to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“I’m working on this bill due to the story that you did,” Stewart said.
Last month, only News 6 was there when the State Fire Marshal’s Office held an event dedicated to teaching crews how to put out fires caused by lithium-ion batteries.
We spoke with CFO Jimmy Patronis, the head of the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Patronis told News 6 he is concerned that there are no regulations for commercially storing lithium-ion batteries.
“It’s not if, it’s when another incident is going to happen. I tell people all the time, the one thing that gets better and cheaper with time is technology,” Patronis said.
According to Patronis, a rule change is more likely to happen because a bill would need to pass through the Florida House and Senate before reaching the governor’s desk. News 6 asked Patronis if he thinks a rule change is likely to happen this legislative session.
“There is interest, as we see these EVs and electric bikes become the norm, we are going to start to look at solutions with it,” Patronis said.
House Speaker Paul Renner’s office told News 6 they have seen our story and have been in touch with Patronis’ office.
Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee next week for committee meetings. That is when Stewart said she plans to make her proposal. The legislative session starts in January and runs through March.
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