Why You Need Lithium-ion Battery Transport Measures in Haulage

lorry and trailer unit on a road with the sun setting behind

    A video captured by Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department shows the lithium-ion battery transport risks with the crew fighting a ferocious blaze in a lorry unit.

    Transporting lithium-ion batteries is essential for the modern world to function. Everything from mobile phones to laptops, drills, cordless vacuums, and electric cars have them.

    But there are risks involved – here’s what you need to know…

    Lithium-ion battery transport risks


    Lithium-ion batteries can produce extreme flames and heat when they burn due to chemical reaction inside them.

    These fires are difficult to fight as they do not generally respond to generic fire extinguishers and take a huge amount of water to bring under control.

    The flames can spread quickly to other items in the hold and overwhelm a transport vehicle with the high temperatures and indiscriminate force.

    Toxic Gases

    There is an emerging risk cause by toxic off-gases that Lithium-ion batteries can create when they malfunction.

    There is more research needed into the specific risks and how to contain them but examples like the below show the real dangers that these situations pose.

    As can be seen in the video, generously provided by Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, the responding team created a break in the side of the unit to try and control the flames and off-gassing.

    The flames can be seen to flare at the top of the unit when they do this.


    Both the fire and toxic gases can cause a tremendous amount of damage to a haulage vehicle.

    This could cause thousands, or millions, worth of damage to the industry if the dangers are not considered and acted upon.

    Alternatively, damage could be caused to the lithium-ion batteries that causes malfunction later in its lifecycle.

    This would put the end user and anyone that handles it in danger and should be considered.

    What you need to consider

    In short, when transporting lithium-ion batteries (in bulk or smaller quantities) you should think about:

    How they are packaged

    Lithium-ion batteries can malfunction when they are dropped, impacted, or penetrated. These can happen in transport if they are not properly packaged or secured.

    Pre- and post-transport checks

    What checks do you have in place to check for any damage. This could save your vehicle and lives further down the road.

    Fire safety equipment

    What do you have on board that could help you should a fire breakout. This includes preventative equipment (such as Firechief® PyroFlow Granules) as well as fire fighting equipment.

    Real-world example

    The Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department was called to the incident shown in January 2022.

    The team was informed that the cargo contained a known-defective lithium-ion battery weighing approximately 215lbs in weight.

    The plan was to cut into the side of the trailer so they could access the battery from the side. However, a chemical reaction occurred at that moment and the rear roll-up door was blown off!

    They then initiated fire attack and suppression from the rear of the unit. Here, team members reported seeing light brown and green coloured fumes and smoke.

    The post-incident report details that the sparks from the circular saw ignited the flammable fumes emitted by the lithium-ion battery.  

    The Firechief® range includes high-performance fire extinguishers, fire blankets, first aid kits, lithium-ion fire extinguishers and the Kitchen Stove Guard. For more information, call us on +44 (0)330 999 0019 or email sales@firechiefglobal.com.

    The information contained within this blog is provided solely for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Before taking any actions based upon this information, we advise the reader to consult any and all relevant statutory or regulatory guidance and where necessary to consult a qualified fire or industry regulation professional. The use or reliance on any information contained herein is solely at the reader's risk.