One lithium battery fire every two days: London Fire Brigade issues new warning for e-bike and e-scooter fires
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UK Firefighters are issuing another reminder about using and charging e-bikes and e-scooters safely after a fire almost killed a woman in Kilburn, UK in August.
This article is re-published courtesy of London Fire Brigade.
London Fire Brigade wrote on August 11 about a woman who was rescued by firefighters and taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews suffering from smoke inhalation.
Most of a third-floor flat was damaged in the fire and the fire is believed to have been caused by the failure of lithium batteries in an e-scooter.
The woman had left the vehicle charging in the hallway, blocking her exit path out of the apartment.
The Brigade was called to this fire at 02:32 am on August 6, and the fire was brought under control by 03:46 am. Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters from Willesden, West Hampstead, North Kensington and Paddington fire stations attended the scene.
Never charge in your exit path - and never at night or unattended
Deputy Commissioner Dom Ellis said:
“This fire is yet another example of why we are so concerned about e-bikes and e-scooters and why we are running our #ChargeSafe campaign to raise awareness of the fire risks associated with these vehicles.
“The fire happened near the entrance to the flat leaving the woman trapped inside. The alarm was raised by a neighbour who could hear the woman shouting for help. Our firefighters had to tackle the fire in order to reach her and bring her to safety.
“It highlights the importance of never blocking an escape route with anything, including e-bikes and e-scooters. Store them somewhere away from a main through route. Our advice is to store these items in a safe location if possible, such as a garage or a shed.
“This incident also shows just how vital it is to have working smoke alarms fitted as the alarm failed to sound due to a power issue.”
110 e-bike or e-scooter fires in 2023 so far in Greater London
So far this year, London Fire Brigade has attended 110 e-bike or e-scooter fires. This works out at roughly one fire every two days.
Last year, the Brigade attended 116 fires involving these vehicles. Sadly, a number of people have been seriously injured or killed in these fires.
The lithium batteries that power these vehicles store a huge amount of energy in a very small space. If that energy is released in an uncontrolled way, then a fire or explosion may result.
The Brigade is predominantly seeing fires where these batteries have been purchased from online which may not meet the correct safety standards.
Lithium batteries are susceptible to failure if incorrect chargers are used and there is a significant risk posed by e-bikes and e-scooters which have been converted.
London Fire Brigade also has good information on:
Charging safety: How to charge an e-bike / e-scooter safely & reducing risks
Spotting the risks: What are the signs your battery may overheat, catch fire or explode?
London Fire Brigade safety tips for all e-bike and e-scooter users to follow:
- Never block your escape route with anything, including e-bikes and e-scooters. Store them somewhere away from a main through route. Our advice is to store these items in a safe location if possible, such as a garage or a shed.
- Do not attempt to modify or tamper with your battery. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Converting pedal bikes into e-bikes using DIY kits bought online can be very dangerous. They pose a higher risk of fire.
- Check your battery and charger meets UK safety standards. Watch out for signs that the battery or charger aren’t working as they should – if it’s hot to the touch or has changed shape.
- Always use the correct charger and buy an official one from a reputable seller. We have particular concern where batteries have been purchased from online marketplaces and when they've been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.
- Let the battery cool before charging. Batteries can get warm during their use and it is advisable to allow them to cool down before attempting to re-charge as they could be more susceptible to failure. If you are charging batteries indoors, please follow our advice on safe charging.
- Unplug your charger once it’s finished charging. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when charging and we would advise not to leave it unattended or while people are asleep.
- Fit alarms where you charge. Ensure you have smoke alarms fitted in areas where e-bikes or e-scooters are being charged and make sure they are tested regularly. You can quickly and easily check your home by visiting our free online home fire safety checker tool.