Lives matter more than batteries: Dangerous lithium-ion devices powering electric bikes must be banned
Somewhere soon in New York City, maybe even today, a lithium-ion battery for an electric bike will start a fire. It’s an easy prediction to make because in the first 10 weeks of this year, 70 days, 33 of these things lit up and brought in the FDNY. And the human figure of 42 injured and two dead will only increase. Having these dangerous and deadly fires every other day is unacceptable.
Fortunately, the five-alarm conflagration that destroyed a supermarket and a row of stores in the Bronx last weekend killed no one. We will not always be so lucky.
On the front lines are Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and the FDNY Bureau of Fire Prevention. At a town hall briefing on Friday, she recounted how fire marshals found more than 100 electric bikes and, far more dangerous, more than 200 batteries stored and charging in a Manhattan garage. Each one is a potential time bomb and the required two feet between each battery was ignored. Overheating a battery can cause thermal runaway and fire. That fire then causes a chain reaction, heating up and igniting nearby batteries. Remember, a single battery is enough to cause massive destruction, like what happened in the Bronx.
the city council passed a bunch of lithium-ion battery safety bills days before the Bronx fire. In Washington, Rep. Ritchie Torres has a bill have the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission issue device safety standards. good and good
We are less sure about Rep. Nydia Velázquez’s call to build public charging and storage stations. The problem is the batteries themselves. If batteries, especially cheaper ones without the Underwriter Laboratories UL tag or label or refurbished or secondhand ones, are prone to exploding, the danger is only centralized and amplified, rather than banishing bad ones.
There will be more fires, injuries and deaths from these batteries. Listen for the FDNY and never charge them unattended or overnight. The convenience is not worth the danger.