Fire code and battery storage?

The local fire inspector (Denver, CO) told our host school that we need to have 3 ft of clearance around our FRC batteries (about a dozen), which are stored in a closet. Has anyone else encountered something similar? This is the first time I’ve heard of anything like this in our team’s 13-year history. Like most FRC teams, storage space at our school is very limited.

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I haven’t heard of anything like that for lead-acid batteries, but I haven’t looked into it that much. Maybe they thought they were LiPo batteries? I know there are quite a few fire safety precautions for those.

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The trouble is facility managers tend not to argue with fire marshals. Especial school buildings. Perhaps politely ask what part of the fire code applies to small VRLA batteries. I suspect there is not a specific one. Most of what I can find applies to battery rooms. The little batteries we use are approved for use/storage in a office environment. The is virtually zero danger from spillage or hydrogen release. Good luck with this. You don’t want to store then stacked on one another or with stuff thrown on top of them, but 3’ seems excessive.


During a recent inspection, it was suggested that a steel enclosure would be a viable alternative to clearance. Since we keep our chargers in an upright toolbox cabinet that is part of our pit toolboxes, it was simply a matter of keeping the batteries in there (not plugged in to the charger) when they were not in use and keeping the door closed. But rules vary from state to state, so that may not be considered acceptable in CO. Wouldn’t hurt to ask if you have the option of storing them in a metal box of some sort.

The local code for Denver may have a few things that are not in force in other locations. Schools always have higher safety standards and Denver being at altitude may also play into the specification. I would ask about the actual wording of the code because these batteries are often used in safety lighting that comes on automatically with power failure.

When I worked on large uninterruptible power supplies for hospitals and other industrial users, we had customers who had unusual requirements due to their local regulations.

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