New legislation before the City Council hopes to build on recently-passed laws aimed at preventing an increasing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries.
These fires include one in the Bronx last month on Grand Concourse. Surveillance video shows the moment when flames sparked by a lithium-ion battery powered e-bike broke out at the Concourse Food Plaza. In less than five minutes, the small fire spread rapidly throughout the building and to the laundromat next door. One FDNY official said it was a type of fire the department had not seen before.
What You Need To Know
- New legislation before the City Council is attempting to limit an increasing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries
- One of two new bills would require city agencies to provide new and reduced or no-cost lithium-ion batteries for e-bikes and scooters
- Another bill would require all businesses to provide fireproof or fire-resistant containers to charge removable storage batteries for workers who use devices powered by them
“What is the most common source of faulty uncertified batteries?” Councilmember Keith Powers said during a hearing held by the Council’s Committee on Fire and Emergency Management Monday. “Is it buying online? Is it local retailers? Is there any way to tell what the source is?”
FDNY Chief of Operations John Esposito told the Council that such fires are often caused by faulty batteries.
“I don’t have that exact breakdown, but what I’ve seen is that very rarely is the device being used with the original battery and the original charger,” Esposito said.
One of the two new bills would require the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to work with other city agencies to provide new and reduced or no-cost lithium-ion batteries for e-bikes and scooters.
The other would require all businesses to provide workers that use e-bikes with fireproof or fire-resistant containers that are suitable for charging removable storage batteries.
The bills aim to make businesses safer environments where lithium-ion battery powered devices are stored in the hopes of preventing future fires such as the one at the Concourse Food Plaza.
But the problem, according to the FDNY, is that the department has not been able to find a product currently on the market that meets those standards. In fact, FDNY officials do not believe the technology currently exists.
“Unfortunately we have not found anything that meets that,” Esposito said. “It hasn’t been developed yet. There isn’t a product that we think would meet this requirement.”
That does not bode well for New Yorkers, particularly because, according to the FDNY, firefighters have responded to 63 fires related to lithium-ion batteries that have caused five deaths thus far in 2023. Fires related to lithium-ion batteries caused a total of six deaths all of last year.
The new bills are in addition to a package of bills the City Council passed in March that also aim to address fires caused by lithium-ion powered e-bikes and scooters. Those five bills Mayor Eric Adams signed into law focus on regulating lithium ion batteries and battery education.
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