Procedures for fighting fires caused by lithium type batteries in portable electronic devices - Service Difficulty Alert

AL 2009-06
13 August 2009

Purpose:

The purpose of this Civil Aviation Safety Alert is to provide the aviation community with information on the procedures for fighting fires caused by lithium type batteries in portable electronic devices (PEDs).

 

Background:

In March 2007, Transport Canada published Commercial and Business Aviation Advisory Circular (CBAAC) 0260, entitled “Potential for In-Flight Fires due to Lithium Battery Failure”. The purpose of the CBAAC is to alert air operators of the potential for in-flight fires caused by the failure of lithium ion and lithium batteries contained in portable laptop computers and other PEDs.

 

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/commerce-circulars-ac0260-1549.htm

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 09013, dated June 23, 2009, to recommend procedures for fighting fires caused by lithium type batteries in PEDs. This document can be viewed at:

http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/airline_operators/airline_safety/safo/all_safos/media/2009/SAFO09013.pdf

Transport Canada does not yet have published procedures for fighting fires caused by lithium type battery powered PEDs. This Safety Alert is intended to provide such procedures, based on the information provided in SAFO 09013.

Recommended Action:

The procedures for fighting fires caused by lithium type battery powered PEDs are comprised of two phases, as follows:

  • Use a Halon, Halon replacement or water extinguisher to extinguish the fire and prevent its spread to other flammable materials.
  • Once the fire has been extinguished, douse the device with water or other non-alcoholic liquids to cool the device and prevent additional battery cells from reaching thermal runaway.
  • WARNING: The smoking or burning device should not be picked up or moved, as bodily injury may result.
  • WARNING: The device should not be covered, and ice should not be used to cool the device. Ice or other materials insulate the device, increasing the likelihood that additional battery cells will reach thermal runaway.

Passengers should be discouraged from plugging in PEDs for the sole purpose of recharging the battery. This will help minimize the risk of battery failure, and possible fires caused by the failure.

Should a battery fire occur, the battery power to all recharge points should be turned off immediately. The fire fighting procedures outlined above should be aggressively initiated to reduce the potential of propagation of the fire and the hazard from smoke accumulation.It is important to keep in mind that PEDs may be stowed in a passenger cabin compartment and hidden from view of cabin crew.

Transport Canada recommends that aircraft operators review their fire fighting procedures and incorporate those outlined in this Safety Alert into their crew member manuals and training programs.

Contact Office:

For more information please contact:
A/Program Manager Cabin Safety Standards
Phone: 613-990-6213
Facsimile: 613-954-1602
E-mail: pascale.lachance@tc.gc.ca

Note: Any further defects or occurrences should be reported to Transport Canada via the Web Service Difficulty Reporting System (WSDRS) or via e-mail at cawwebfeedback@tc.gc.ca.

D. Sherritt
Director, Standards

Note: For the electronic version of this document, please consult the following Web address: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/certification/menu.htm