Screen shot of the front page of the document
04 Jul 2024

Guide for rescue operations where lithium ion batteries are present

The Swedish Agency for Community Protection and Preparedness (MSB)
The Swedish Agency for Community Protection and Preparedness (MSB)
Release date

This guide presents overall facts about lithium-ion batteries and explains the cause and origin of thermal runaway in batteries, as well as how it spreads from battery cell to battery cell, known as propagation. 

The document also provides suggestions for response methodology in the event of a fire in lithium-ion batteries.


(The PDF is attached above)


The document attached develops the knowledge of handling fires in lithium ion batteries so that an intervention can take place in a safe manner. Although there are still areas that need to be developed in battery systems and emergency service methodology, this guidance will be helpful in being able to carry out operations in an effective manner. 

It mainly concerns battery energy storage in homes, energy storage in large systems (BESS) and battery operation for heavy vehicles, together with battery systems, charging and storage of batteries for micro mobility.

In recent years, knowledge about hydrogen fluoride and its impact on emergency service personnel has increased, with positive consequences. Thanks to the new knowledge, the risk of the toxicity of the battery gases is assessed to be lower than previously assessed and at the same level as other fire smoke. This means that the emergency services can handle burning lithium-ion batteries in the same way as other fires in terms of toxicity.

The risk that is least known, and perhaps most serious at the moment, is that lithium-ion batteries that thermally rush can produce flammable gases that can be explosive.

This means that all volumes where gases can accumulate must be considered as having a risk of explosion. At the time of writing, there is no knowledge of which ratio between the size of battery cells and the size of room volumes is risky with regard to explosions. It is a challenge, as the guidance explains along with rough guidelines on how the emergency services personnel can think about this, before and during an operation.

An area that is current and where a lot of investigative work is currently taking place is the re-ignition of burnt or damaged electric vehicles. This guidance describes it on an overall level, as it is an important and in-demand area.

It requires cooperation between emergency services, recovery companies, garages and vehicle manufacturers, so that vehicles known to be at risk of re-ignition are transported safely and efficiently and then placed wisely to reduce the risk of fire.


(This text is machine translated from the original document in Swedish by MSB.se.)



Illustration of a fire fighter using a TIC to measure temperature of a car fire.