By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
The holiday shopping season is upon us, and the FDNY is urging buyers and parents to beware of the dangers of e-bike battery fires.
As reported by the NY Post, the FDNY has issued a safety guide warning regarding fires started by batteries used in e-bikes, scooters and hoverboards. City landlords will be required to post the new warning in apartment buildings by April 30. The new warning was spurred by data that shows that thus far in 2022 there have been at least 140 fires linked to the e-bike and scooter batteries in New York City—causing at least 140 injuries and six deaths. In September, in Queens, an 8-year-old girl was killed in a fire which began due to a lithium battery from her sibling’s new electric scooter. This holiday shopping season, lithium-ion battery-powered bikes have soared in popularity. The problem is that people store and charge e-bike batteries in their apartments, which “present serious fire safety hazards,” officials say.
“Christmas is coming. You think of the e-bikes… the lithium-ion batteries which power electric mobility devices will be a big gift for the holiday season,” said Dan Flynn, the FDNY’s chief fire marshal. “Understand that they are great and convenient for us to use in our communities. But they do pose some risk,” he said. “When you buy these for your children, don’t let them charge [the batteries] in inside your children’s bedroom.” As per the fire Department’s emergency safety bulletin, consumers are urged to stop charging an e-bike immediately and call 911 if there is any fire or smoke, battery overheating, leaking, or an odd smell, or a
battery making an unusual noise.
The FDNY safety warning cautions New Yorkers to purchase only e-bikes and other mobility devices that are certified by nationally recognized testing labs and are marked with the symbols “UL”, “ETL” or “CSA.” “The laboratories test these products to make sure they meet industry standards and are safe to operate under normal circumstances.” Also, the bulletin cautions to use only the original battery, power adapter and power cord sold with that electric mobility device. They caution consumers to “NEVER use unapproved batteries/chargers, even if they are much less expensive”. Also, “NEVER charge an e-bike or e-bike battery with an extension cord or power strip”. This is because the batteries use hefty doses of electrical currents, and this can be more than anextension cord can handle, which can lead to overheating. Also, New Yorkers are being urged not to charge the devices in their homes, and especially not overnight, or when they are not actively present. It is preferable to store e-bike chargers and batteries in a safe facility and “not in your apartment, if possible”, the bulletin reads.
As per the Post, state lawmakers are also looking to add legislation which will help avoid the e-bike fires. State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) recently proposed two bills—one which strives to ban the sale of such batteries if they are not tested by a nationally recognized lab, and another bill banning the sale of reconditioned or used lithium-ion batteries. Similarly, in the city council, councilman Oswald Feliz (D-Bronx) introduced legislation to try to prohibit the sale of uncertified batteries for e-bikes or scooters. “Reconditioned and untested batteries are contributing to a serious threat to the health and safety of New Yorkers in their homes and in their jobs, whether it’s delivery workers trying to make a living, or residential tenants living next to a fly-by-night charging business,” Krueger said.