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Fire service officials warn about ecig chargers again

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Warnings about charging electronic cigarettes and using quality products have been given out on a frequent basis over the last few years. With the advent of yet another fire, this time in Carlisle, are people paying attention?

In 2014, The Daily Mail wrote that fire service data indicated at least one fire a week was being caused by electronic cigarettes being charged incorrectly. It was picked up on in an article by POTV where we pointed out that, despite this being the case, the total number of house fires has decreased as smokers have switched to ecigs.

The trouble with ecig-related fires is the publicity it causes and the resulting bad press given to vaping as a whole. One of the consequences has been that vaping workers are now banned from using their devices while at work on oilrigs for extended periods. "We have restricted the use of e-cigarettes,” said an oil company executive, “following an incident on one of our platforms when an e-cigarette overheated while it was charging.”

The recent ban on vaping throughout the Transport for London network was also partially justified due to explosion fear mongering. “This would mitigate any residual potential fire risk (and reduce the potential for staff assault) by providing clarity and consistency in the treatment of all customers using our services,” explained a TfL spokesperson.

“Please make sure you purchase e-cigarettes from a reputable source and ensure you only use the charger supplied with your kit,” pleaded a representative from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service following yet another incident earlier this year.

But the advice continues to be ignored and this week a house fire broke out in Carlisle in the early hours of the morning. Carlisle West Fire Station were alerted following a call to the emergency number when a charging ecig set fire to a bag at 6:30am.

The two residents of the house claim to have had “a lucky escape” after being woken by the fire alarm, a clear indication that the device was being left to charge unsupervised. They then compounded the problem by smothering the electrical fire with wet towels.

A Carlisle West spokesperson again warned people about the dangers of leaving e-cigarettes unattended when charging, not to leave devices charging overnight and if they are plugged in to keep an eye on them.

David Burn, the aptly named fire officer, said: “They can sort of explode without warning. It’s the same as mobile phones, we give the same advice to not leave them charging and be somewhere where you can see what’s happening just in case something happens like that. The smoke alarm saved their lives today.”

POTV supports the combined advice from various fire services:

  • Check your smoke alarm every week.
  • Only use the charger supplied with your e-cigarette and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If no charger is supplied check with the manufacturer or vendor for a list of approved chargers.
  • Read the instructions on how to clean the battery centre pin and charger contact.
  • Don’t leave it charging overnight, unattended or charging on flammable surfaces such as a bed or sofa.
  • Don’t over-tighten the battery – especially when charging.
  • Never charge a battery that has signs of damage, that has been dropped, or has been subjected to impact.
  • Never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer.
  • Check that your e-cigarette battery has overcharge or overheat protection.
  • Remove the battery from charge when complete – don’t over charge.
  • Don’t use if wet or exposed to water.
  • Ensure that you dispose of batteries correctly.
  • Always have a working smoke alarm in your home.
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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