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Electric Vehicles Batteries: Are they a fire hazard?

Photo by Mike Bird by Pexels.com

Photo by Mike Bird for Pexels.com

 “The batteries used to power electric scooters and bikes are “the fastest growing fire trend internationally”, according to Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB), which has warned they can be “explosive with shooting flames” when faulty, improperly fitted or used without proper attention.

Recently in an Irish Times fire hazard article  Dublin Fire Brigade says it has requested that all new car parks in apartment buildings should be fitted with a sprinkler system, but the point, says head of the risk unit at DFB John Chubb ‘is it is not just fire brigades that need to think about how the hugely increased use of battery devices is going to have to be addressed; the planners, regulators and builders have some catching up to do too’.

In August 2023, a fire was attributed to lithium-ion batteries at a block of apartments on Francis Street. During the evacuation of the residents, some from a roof terrace, by units of the fire brigade, evidence indicated the blaze had been started by batteries on one floor. After which it moved up through the building and ignited another battery on a higher floor.

In November the, New York City Fire Department said a lithium-ion battery had been responsible for starting a Brooklyn fire in which three people died. The batteries were in public areas, a common occurrence, it is suggested, because of the free electricity.

Photo by Nikita Lutsenko for Pexels.com

Another article on a subject of international interest reveals that in the UK, the government has been asked to introduce regulation for e-bike and e-scooter batteries  ‘The Irish News’ outlined a report by the charity Electrical Safety First (ESF). In an interview with CEO Lesley Rudd, she outlines how charging should be outside if possible.

But not in the communal space of an apartment block, as is designated as a typical area of access for the Fire Brigade and a fire escape route for residents.  “We would urge people to only buy their e-bike or e-scooter from a reputable retailer and to use a compatible charger with the device to reduce the risk of a ferocious fire.”

The report, by charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) recommends that the UK introduces mandatory third-party approval for the vehicles’ batteries. This would force manufacturers to have their batteries approved by an accredited third party, such as a test lab. Once approved, the products would then be supplied with a certificate proving they meet safety standards.

After the recent Fire in February this year, in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, with fatalities there has been early investigations, that suggest the blaze began where the mopeds were stored. Semafor reports that while it remains unclear whether any bikes were plugged in at the time of the fire, it raises the questions of the standards and safety of batteries used in e-bikes, commonly known as “e-mules” in China.

After the recent Fire in February this year, in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, with fatalities there has been early investigations, that suggest the blaze began where the mopeds were stored. Semafor reports that while it remains unclear whether any bikes were plugged in at the time of the fire, it raises the questions of the standards and safety of batteries used in e-bikes, commonly known as “e-mules” in China.

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