Had a fire at the shop yesterday. No damage to client property, no prolonged shutdown required, but this fire / battery warning needs to be known:

Was doing close inspection work in the machine shop with a single cell SF light when the battery went dead. Went to the toolbox where there was a 72 pack carton of 123A lithium batteries. (six smaller boxes of batteries in carton). The carton was sitting in the top platform recess of the toolbox. The toolbox has no electrical power, just a standard metal tool box with drawers, and a rubber mat in the top platform shallow recess.

Of the six boxes of batteries in the carton, only one had been opened, and only one previous battery had been removed. I took out the second battery, put the box back in the carton, got the single cell SF flashlight
operational and went back to work in the machine shop. About 15 minutes later began to smell smoke, the smoke detectors began going off. Began searching for the problem, spotted smoke along the ceiling in the hallway
leading to the toolbox area. Followed the smoke and located open flame fire about 2 1/2 tall coming out of the top open recess of the toolbox. The cardboard carton containing the 123A batteries was on fire and papers /
materials above the box had caught fire.

Fire extinguishers had been in place in many locations of the shop for years. One large size dry chemical fire extinguisher put the flame out. The batteries in the burned carton were in their factory original container and they were still oriented as packed by the vendor. (SF72-BB) They were clean and dry. The shop temp was about 65 degrees. There were no electrical cords or plug ins anywhere close to the toolbox.

The factory SF battery box has a warning, including: batteries can explode and or catch fire…..in the ‘unlikely’ event that they catch fire, use a class D fire extinguisher.

Lessons learned:

Do not store ANY batteries in your structures. Use weather proof containers outside in an area that cannot catch fire.
Be prepared for fire with staged fire extinguishers. If you are not prepared to handle small fires immediately, it may be too late to contain them by the time fire services arrive.

Dave Lauck is the owner of D&L Sports, Inc., custom builder of several of the finest weapons found anywhere in the world and is recognized as the foremost expert on the 1911 platform. He has built custom 1911s for a long list of celebrities as well as President Donald Trump and was awarded “Pistolsmith of the Year” by American Pistolsmiths Guild in 2012. His AR-15 carbines have frequently been used among top-tier competitors and his sniper weapon system, the MR-30, was featured as the Black King Rifle in the TV Series Shooter.