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Photo of a residential fire

Fire is Fast and Getting Faster

Posted: April 5, 2024

2 min read
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Public awareness of common fire risks is critical to saving lives and drastically reducing property loss. The public needs to understand that today’s structure fires can go from a small flame to flashover in just 3 to 5 minutes, leaving little time for escape.

This rapid progression is due to a number of contributing factors including synthetic materials used in modern furnishings and interior finishes and lithium-ion batteries which are becoming increasingly common household items. Used in consumer electronics, power tools, micromobility devices, and electric vehicles, when lithium-ion batteries burn, it can be as little as 15 seconds from the first sign of smoke until thermal runaway and explosion.

For more details, the video “Examining Fire Hazards: Lithium-Ion Batteries and Other Threats to Fire Safety” shows recent testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives from the U.S. Fire Administration, Fire Safety Research Institute, International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the New York City Fire Department discussing how fast fire can progress within a typical modern structure and how little time there is to escape.

One way that Fire and public safety departments – especially code officials and anyone involved in fire prevention education – can help educate the public is by reporting unsafe products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at and by sharing CPSC’s fire safety messages with their community. Sign up on the CPSC website for future product recalls and alerts. For example, in March 2024 the CPSC released several alerts about consumer products posing fire hazards:

  • Insignia air fryers and air fryer ovens. Best Buy has recalled more than 187,400 of its Insignia air fryers that can overheat, causing the handles to melt or break, posing fire and burn hazards. Additionally, the air fryer ovens can overheat and the glass on the door can shatter, posing fire, burn, and laceration hazards.
  • Honeywell System Sensor L-series low frequency fire alarms and strobes.Honeywell is recalling about 29,000 units because the sounders and strobes can malfunction and cause the fire alarm system to fail to alert consumers of a fire.
  • Elide brand fire extinguishing balls. CPSC is warning consumers about the risk of burns and smoke inhalation associated with the use of Elide brand fire extinguishing balls. These products can fail to extinguish a fire, which could lead to serious injury and death. As of 4/28/24, Elide Fire USA has not agreed to recall these fire extinguishing balls or offer a remedy to consumers.
  • EVERCROSS EV5 Hoverboards. CPSC is warning consumers that EVERCROSS EV5 hoverboards pose a risk of fire. They urge consumers to stop using them and to immediately remove the lithium-ion battery packs from the hoverboards and dispose of them following local hazardous waste disposal procedures. As of 4/28/24, the company has not agreed to recall these hoverboards or offer a remedy to consumers.

This article is based on content in the
April 5, 2024 InfoGram.

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