PULLMAN, Wash. – Reports and warnings prompted by recently documented instances in which batteries from electronic skateboards, or hoverboards, have unexpectedly burst into flames have prompted officials at Washington State University to ban hoverboards from all buildings on all WSU campuses and other WSU-owned facilities.

The ban effectively prohibits the storage and possession of such devices in residence halls, university apartments, academic buildings, research buildings, recreational facilities, or other structures on WSU-owned properties.

The storage ban follows a warning issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is also reportedly conducting an ongoing investigation of the devices. Similar safety concerns prompted major U.S. airlines to ban the devices on their flights.

While the WSU policy does not specifically ban the use of hoverboards outside of buildings, WSU Fire Marshall Rod Holmes said students, faculty and staff are being asked to refrain from bringing hoverboards back with them as they return next week for the new semester.

“We believe this is a very serious fire safety concern, particularly on residential campuses” said Holmes. “The relatively large batteries in these devices have a demonstrated propensity to burst into flames unexpectedly, particularly when they are charging. And when they do combust, it tends to be explosive and the resulting metal fire burns with a very intense heat.”

The ban is a temporary one, Holmes said, adding that the university expects it will continue in effect until such time as hoverboard manufacturers are able to demonstrate the batteries can meet safety standards reliably.

“There really is no way that we expect to allow them to be stored on our campuses for the forseeable future,” he said. “And local landlords are likely to have very similar safety concerns, so students will probably face difficulties in finding alternative storage options.”

Holmes said WSU will work with students who may already have hoverboards stored on campus to arrange for removal.

Contact:

Robert Strenge, WSU News, 509-335-3583, rstrenge@wsu.edu