November TFPA Meeting and Seminar - Fire Hazards of Energy Storage

  • November 13, 2019
  • 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM
  • San Marcos Activity Center


Fire Hazards of Energy Storage Systems and
Lithium Ion Batteries

--Unseen Dangers and How to Address Them

Location Details: 
San Marcos Activity Center
501 E. Hopkins, San Marcos, TX

Program: Energy storage systems (ESS) are showing up everywhere... from small buildings to high-rise buildings to data centers to single family homes.  These systems introduce an entirely new realm of fire-safety concerns that was entirely unknown and unregulated just a few years ago.  And, they can create huge challenges for designers, code officials, firefighters and occupants, who may have no idea of the dangers that may lurk inside of a box or cabinet filled with lithium ion batteries or other new energy storage technologies, such as electrical capacitor systems.  An additional complication may be the use of energy storage system as companions to photovoltaic panels.

Similarly, there are significant hazards associated with new battery storage and collection, storage and disposal of used lithium ion batteries, which may retain a significant charge and may be damaged or defective when put into the collection and recycle stream.  How do you protect buildings with this type of storage?  What is the basis for designing the fire sprinkler system that's supposed to protect the commodity, the building, occupants and firefighters.  Unfortunately, while we can show the consequences of these hazards, there are no good answers on how to regulate them at this point.

Lithium ion batteries are dense energy storage devices that contain enormous amounts of electrochemical energy in a very small space. They work exceptionally well under normal circumstances, but manufacturing or installation defects, fire exposures and other abnormal conditions can initiate thermal runaway reactions, with fires that cannot be extinguished. Making matters worse, the fire intensity can far exceed the basis of fire ratings assigned by standardized fire tests for building assemblies, such as ASTM E119.  Imagine a fire exposure that might be worse than a flammable liquid in a high-rise occupancy coming from a fuel source that can't be extinguished...

By attending this program, participants will gain and understanding of:

  • Energy storage systems, lithium ion batteries, and hazards that they pose,
  • The evolution of requirements as we progress from the 2015 IFC to the 2018 and 2021 editions,
  • The new NFPA 855, Standard on Energy Storage Systems.
The session also includes hands on application exercises on how to apply the code requirements for various types of installations. With this background, designers and code officials will be better prepared to deal with designing, installing and operating ESS installations, including ESS installations in data centers.

Presenter (updated): Howard Hopper, FPE

Mr. Hopper is UL's Global Regulatory Services Manager, and he is a fire protection engineer with over 30 years of experience with UL. He has been a leader in the development of fire safety requirements for energy storage systems (ESS) in North America, and has chaired the International Code Council's Fire Code Action Committee, Energy Storage System Work Group since its inception in 2015. Mr. Hopper is a member of the NFPA 855 Energy Storage System Standard technical committee, a member of the 2018 and 2021 IFC Code Development Committee, and has served for many years as a board member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs Fire and Life Safety Section.

In addition to authoring text in codes and standards and providing testimony at numerous ESS code and standards development hearings, Mr. Hopper has presented more than 50 education sessions on ESS fire safety concepts in North America and internationally.

Registration Fee (includes lunch and refreshments):
Prepaid Online - Member: $25
Prepaid Online - Non-member: $35
At Door - Member/Non-Member: $50

Registration and networking: 9:00-9:30
Program Part 1: 9:30-12:00
Lunch 12:00-12:45
Program Part 2: 12:45-3:30

RSVP DEADLINE IS 5:00 P.M. on November 8, 2019.  Space is limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.