NEW YORK CITY – New York lawmakers are making a new push to create safety standards for common batteries found in e-bikes and scooters.
It comes as New York City is exploring electric bike charging stations for delivery workers.
“I want parents to be aware that you cannot bring these types of things into your home,” Marilu Perez Torres tearfully told reporters in Spanish, seven months after her young daughter was killed in a Queens fire caused by an e-scooter battery.
The early-morning inferno broke out at the family home in September 2022. Eight-year-old Stephanie Villa Torres was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead at a hospital.
“She was the best girl I ever had in my life, and she’s gone,” her father, Alfonso Villa, said.
The fire that tragically took Stephanie’s life is just one of scores in New York City tied to lithium-ion batteries.
Her parents Sunday joined Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in an emotional plea to regulate them on a federal level.
“Right now, there is no mandatory federal consumer safety standard for these lithium-ion batteries and that has allowed cheap, faulty batteries to remain available to consumers,” Sen. Gillibrand said.
The lawmakers introduced new legislation called the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act, which would work to take faulty-batteries off the market and create strict guidelines to protect both civilians and first responders.
“There are safe batteries, and they have certain provisions in them that don’t allow them to explode and shut things down when there’s a malfunction and etc.,” Sen. Schumer said.
According to the FDNY, lithium-ion batteries have caused more than 400 fires over the past four years, resulting in more than 300 injuries, 12 deaths, and damage to more than 320 structures.
A raging e-bike battery fire earlier this month in Astoria killed a 19-year-old girl and her 7-year-old brother.
“People’s everyday life is being affected,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. “They’re losing family members, and for first responders, these are incredibly dangerous fires to go into.”
Just last week, the city council’s Fire and Emergency Management Committee held a hearing on two proposed pieces of legislation that would regulate the sale of lithium-ion batteries across the five boroughs.
- One would require the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to establish a program providing reduced-cost or no cost batteries to delivery workers.
- Another would mandate all businesses to give those delivery workers fire-proof containers where they can safely charge them.
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