E-Bike and E-Scooter Battery Fires Are on the Rise in NYC!
Posted on October 31, 2022 in Firm News
E-bike and e-scooter battery fires are becoming a significant safety concern in New York City. Gothamist reported in March that e-bike fires were on track to double in 2022, and their predictions were not wrong.
The FDNY has reported more than 130 e-bike and e-scooter fires in NYC so far this year, estimating the number will surpass 160 fires by the end of 2022. The current rate of fires highlights an approximate 50% increase in similar instances from 2021, totaling 104 e-bike and e-scooter fires for the year.
In response to the uptick in e-bike and e-scooter fires, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced a new micro mobility device safety webpage to respond to first responder and public concerns. The webpage provides educational resources about e-bike and e-scooter fires and how to regulate the risk to our community. Let’s take a look.
Why are E-Bike & E-Scooter Batteries Dangerous?
Lithium-ion batteries are the source of power for most e-bikes and e-scooters. Science Direct states these batteries are one of the most popular forms of energy storage worldwide, used in nearly 86% of deployed energy systems. Unfortunately, their popularity doesn’t make them safe.
When lithium-ion batteries become damaged or are used incorrectly, they can overheat, catch fire, or even explode. NFPA reports these fires are unlike typical structure or vehicle fires, as they emit toxic gasses and burn extremely hot, putting anyone nearby at risk of thermal and alkali burns.
What Causes E-Bike & E-Scooter Battery Fires?
Most lithium-ion battery fires occur from damage to the e-bike or e-scooter, but there are several other causes that riders need to be aware of to prevent tragedy.
The NFPA provides the following safety tips to reduce your chances of a battery fire:
- Purchase vehicles, batteries, and chargers that are nationally recognized to avoid defective and dangerous knockoffs.
- Only use battery chargers specifically designed for your vehicle.
- Follow all instructions for use, charging, and storage to avoid overheating.
- Only charge your e-bike or e-scooter until fully charged; do not leave it plugged otherwise.
- Charge one vehicle at a time.
- Perform regular maintenance on your vehicle by a qualified professional.
- Never throw lithium batteries in the trash.
- Keep lithium-ion batteries at room temperature when possible. Temperature below 32 degrees or above 105 degrees can be dangerous.
- Never store batteries in direct sun, in a car, or in proximity to children, liquids, or flammable materials.
How to Know if Your Vehicle is a Fire Risk
While there have been instances of e-bikes and e-scooters sporadically bursting into flames, a few signs indicate your vehicle may be a fire risk before a fire starts. Here are a few listed by the NFPA:
- There is a change in battery color.
- The battery emits an unusual odor.
- The battery is leaking.
- You see smoke coming off the vehicle.
- The battery consistently is not being charged.
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