• eScrap Beat

Electronic Recyclers Avoid Costly Proposed Fire Code Amendment

The electronic recycling industry dodged a bullet after proposed amendment F18-18 was rejected during the most recent ICC annual conference. Its approval would have forced electronics recyclers to reconfigure service, repair and transportation operations concerning lithium-ion batteries.

Now that the proposal has been dismissed, the industry must focus on collaborating safety practices of battery storage and handling.

Earlier this year, the International Code Council (ICC) failed to add a new section, amendment F18-18, to the International Fire Code (IFC) to address storage procedures for “used and off-specification li-ion batteries.” During the second stage of the amendment (where a final proposal will be established), the updated draft proposal redetermined the parameters concerning where facilities can store used or off-specification lithium-ion batteries. However, after the amendment was re-addressed last month during the ICC’s public comment hearing in Richmond, Virginia, it was once again rejected.

The proposed amendment was initially rejected due to issues on package and container type, thermal runaway, ignition potential and unlimited area buildings. During the ICC's public comment hearing, the updated proposal revised section 315.8.2 mercantile vehicle repair, aircraft repair and laboratory occupancy battery collection and storage locations. The revision involved providing “open top noncombustible containers or containers approved for battery collection activities” to all collection locations where used batteries are collected as opposed to the requirement of automatic sprinkler system in compliance with Section 903.3.1.1.

In addition, the proposal redefined indoor storage parameters to involve used or off- specification lithium-ion or lithium metal batteries or cells not meeting the limitations of Group H-3 occupancy. The proposal requires batteries under this category to be housed in rooms or spaces separated from other areas of the building by fire barriers constructed with a fire resistance rating of three hours. Despite revisions, the proposal was unable to gain enough votes by the committee and was therefore dismissed.

The industry indeed dodged a bullet when the ICC F18-18 proposal was rejected. The proposal, as drafted, would have put serious encumbrances on repair and refurbishment operations that rely on the safe and efficient handling of used batteries. Moving forward, the industry needs to act proactively to share best practices and ensure the safety issues related to battery flammability are addressed across the industry as a whole. 

By Craig Boswell, President
HOBI International, Inc.

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