Lithium batteries aboard a boat = hazard.
I am a senior executive of a company that manufactures portable power tools that utilize rather large capacity lithium batteries. Transporting the batteries with their equipment
or stand alone requires proper packaging and labeling and each and every person that handles or administers the packaging and shipping
is required to have specialized training.
It is challenging to control a fire that is derived from a charge lithium battery. We have had batteries catch on fire when they were improperly disposed on at the county landfill. The landfill had to dig out the batteries and set them aside until the fire destroyed everything. And of course any crushing, or shorting of the leads induces a lot of current
flow and heating
differ depending upon
what type of lithium battery you are
(lithium ion or lithium metal)
and whether you are shipping batteries
packed without equipment
packed with equipment, or batteries
contained in equipment.
The goods are transported as Class 9 Hazardous Goods with appropriate declarations and warning labels and restrictions as to method and means of transport. Exemplary labels are detailed below and are placed on each individual power tool packaging and also on each covering of a palletized load of packaged tools or packaged batteries. Note the bold warning FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ON AIRCRAFT OR VESSEL. That warning is to be taken seriously, VERY SERIOUSLY.
We do NOT transport the batteries on board a passenger plane or a passenger vessel; we ship only on cargo planes and cargo vessels and of course by commercial
truck transport. We have shipped consignments of thousands of large format batteries on single
cargo flights, it becomes a very expensive shipment from China
to the USA, e.g. $10 per battery due to the hazardous risk involved in transporting them and the considerable weight and bulk of the pallet loads. Personally I would not like to be the flight crew aboard the plane knowing as they do that the specifics of the hazardous manifest of our consignment, even though we go to great detail of providing individual terminal isolation and protective packaging of individual batteries as if our lives depend on the safety of the items we consign to ship.
On board a yacht I would recommend for portable power tool batteries that they have the battery terminals taped with an insulative tape, then place each individual battery inside a sturdy, sealable plastic bag, one battery per bag, then put the batteries inside a fire proof container, such as a lockable ammo can, with padding between each individually bagged battery. Do not store removable batteries inside their equipment, or on a battery charger
. It is wise to store lithium batteries in a depleted state of charge, e.g., 40 to 60% of charge so as to reduce the energy capacity. Place a battery into its equipment only when you are intending to promptly use it. When you are done utilizing the tool remove the battery and again properly store it immediately. Purchase
equipment that has removable / replaceable batteries instead of fixed installations of batteries that have to be recharged and fixedly stored inside the equipment. Store the batteries in a cool, dry location.
Ditto that practice for home and job site usage.
If the small portable batteries are kept in a portable, fire protective container one can simply discharge the entire container overboard and the fire can be constrained to be just inside the container and starved of ambient oxygen thereby constraining the chemical combustion to just the oxygen molecules that may be in the lithium compound. Note there are lithium chemistries that do not have oxygen, e.g., LiPo which are inherently less prone to runaway combustion, but many commercial
power tools use chemistries that contain oxygen.
It is common practice to store all flammable hazardous goods in fire proof containers or lockers. Batteries should be kept separately stored from combustible goods, particularly highly flammable goods and the batteries stored in their own fire proof containers.
Extinguishing lithium battery fires is difficult. Often one can suppress the fire for a short while but it will likely reignite which seems to be the instance of the OP. Been there done that, no joy.
We have had discussions with the local fire department regarding our lithium battery inventory at our manufacturing / assembly facility. We store the bulk battery inventory in separate 20 foot cargo shipping containers outside and of the building and at about 40 yards distance. The limited amount of packaged goods inventory are kept inside because the packaging is sturdy cardboard boxes meant for retail display and purchase
. The firefighters have been told to just evacuate buildings downwind to avoid toxic fumes that may emit the outside shipping container storage
and to just let the entire container [20 feet] to burn itself out. We have about a quarter mile separation between our facility and the nearest occupied buildings and even if a fire broke out the distance should provide adequate ambient dilution of toxic fumes downwind, the hot gases will rise and not be travel close to the surface. Our firefighters are volunteers, we have told them just stand back and let the plant and the inventory burn, don't attempt entry unless there are employees in the building needing assistance to evacuate.
You don't allow combustible liquids to be hazardously stored aboard your vessel, e.g., solvents, gasoline or alcohol in a tippable or breakable container; similarly don't store any batteries, lithium, alkaline, lead acid, [primary or secondary batteries] in a hazardous manner. Each and every battery should have its terminals conductively isolated. Heck a paper clip inside a drawer with an alkaline battery can cause a short and a fire.