WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), co-chairs of the Senate Recycling Caucus, today introduced a resolution designating the week of June 18 through June 24, 2023, as “National Firefighter Safety Week.” The resolution seeks to raise awareness about the fire risks associated with the improper disposal of lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries often cause fires in landfills and recycling facilities, creating unique challenges for firefighters and first responders.
“Firefighters put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep us safe and we need to return the favor,” said Senator Carper. “This bipartisan resolution provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our nation’s firefighters and educate the public about the potential hazards of lithium-ion batteries. Properly recycling lithium-ion batteries is a simple step we can take to protect our firefighters and environment—a win-win.”
“Firefighters need the tools and training to respond appropriately to emergencies and safeguard citizens while also protecting themselves,” said Senator Boozman. “By raising awareness about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries, we can prevent tragedies as well as help reduce the risks our community heroes face and encourage proper, safe disposal of these products.”
“Lithium-ion battery fires caused by improper recycling or disposal are increasingly impacting the waste and recycling industry, resulting in heavy damage to or total losses of our members’ collection trucks and Materials Recovery Facilities. Each of these fires can cost the industry hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars while also endangering the lives of firefighters and first responders who answer the call. We greatly appreciate congressional recognition of this safety stand down and the public attention it brings to this serious danger,” said Darrell Smith, President & CEO of the National Waste & Recycling Association.
“I thank Senator Carper and Senator Boozman for their support of the 2023 Firefighter Safety Stand Down. This annual event encourages fire departments to highlight critical safety, health, and survival issues for fire and emergency services personnel. This years’ theme of “Lithium-Ion Batteries: Are you Ready?” is very timely. It is crucial that firefighters are prepared to address the growing and evolving challenges these batteries present,” said Steve Hirsch, Chair of the National Volunteer Fire Council.
"I thank Senators Carper and Boozman for their resolution in support of the National Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week," said Chief Donna Black, the President & Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. "This year we continuously witness the dangers that faulty lithium-ion batteries can present to our citizens’ homes. The National Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week provides an opportunity for fire departments to learn about this emerging risk and take actions to protect their communities."
In addition to the National Waste and Recycling Association, National Volunteer Fire Council, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the resolution has the support of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Fire Department Safety Officers Association, and the National Fire Protection Association.