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Norfolk Trading Standards issues charger safety warning after two lithium battery fires

Norfolk County Council, 24 April 2023 00:00

Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards team has issued a warning over the dangers of non-manufacturer-approved replacement batteries and chargers following two devastating fires caused by exploding lithium-ion batteries.

One fire, which took hold in a newly built home in Swaffham at the start of April, was caused when a cordless vacuum cleaner fitted with a replacement non-manufacturer approved battery was left charging unattended which caused the lithium batteries to overheat and explode. The internal doors of the house were all left open to air the property out, which allowed smoke to spread quickly throughout the property. Four fire engines attended the scene, and crews quickly brought the fire under control.

The second fire occurred in mid-April in Watton. This incident was caused by a malfunctioning cordless vacuum cleaner overheating and exploding when left on charge unattended. The resulting damage rendered the house uninhabitable. Two fire engines, from Watton and Hingham attended and extinguished the fire.
Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk Trading Standards, said: "We are aware of several devices which have malfunctioned and resulted in fires and property damage. It's really important that people always check for the required safety marks on items and follow the advice from the fire service. You should only purchase products from genuine suppliers, and only use replacement parts which are from a manufacturer approved supplier."

Terence Pinto, prevention lead at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "These two recent fires highlight the needs for people to take small actions that can help prevent fires. It's important that you have a smoke alarm on each floor, and these need to be located on your escape route. The minimum you should be testing your smoke alarm is once a month, but I'd encourage everyone to test them once a week by taking part in our Test It Tuesday."

Ken Mould, who owns the property in Swaffham, said: "The fire was absolutely devastating. We had left the doors open to air the house out but that allowed the smoke to spread to every room causing an incredible amount of damage. I'd encourage everyone to follow the advice of Trading Standards and the fire service to make sure that this doesn't happen to them. People who think that this won't happen to them, let me tell you, it can."

When buying electrical items, you should only buy from a reputable retailer and make sure there is a UKCA or CE mark, this means that the product meets safety standards. Avoid purchasing any electrical item, replacement battery packs and chargers from third a party online or private second-hand sellers as these could be unsafe.

To reduce your risk of fire, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service recommends:

  • Not leaving items plugged in and switched on when unattended, ensure items are switched off and unplugged as soon as they have finished charging or no longer in use.
  • Never charging items overnight when you are asleep.
  • Always using the charger which came with the item
  • Keeping doors closed to help avoid spreading smoke and fire
  • Making sure you have a smoke alarm on each level, and test it regularly, at least once a month but ideally once a week

If you're concerned about the safety of an item, stop using it and contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 to report any concerns.

If you're concerned about fire safety in the home, visit Norfolk Fire and Rescue Servicefor online advice and to see if you're eligible for a free home fire safety visit. In an emergency always call 999.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:45

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