Fire officials warn about the dangers of e-scooters powered by lithium-ion batteries

As electronic bikes and scooters continue to rise in popularity among teenagers, so does the risk of fire and explosions caused by the lithium-ion batteries that power the devices.

News 12 Staff

Feb 9, 2023, 3:49 AM

Updated 527 days ago

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As electronic bikes and scooters continue to rise in popularity among teenagers, so does the risk of fire and explosions caused by the lithium-ion batteries that power the devices.
And although there is no national data on how often these vehicles catch fire, fire officials say that they have seen increasing incidents where people have been hurt or even killed after a fire sparked by a malfunctioning e-bike or e-scooter.
“The problem is when you buy them you have to make sure they are from a reputable company - property tested by the right company,” says Edison Fire Marshall Matt Jandernal.
Jandernal says that the popularity of these devices has come with some challenges and growing concerns.
“Especially e-scooters. People are carrying it around – if you drop it or if you fall off it, that’s when it becomes damaged like anything else. If it’s internal, you don’t see it,” he says.
If the right safety measures are not put into practice, officials say the lithium-ion can become deadly.
"The problem is that if they’re overcharged…another issue you run into is when they charge them, if they lost a charger and buy a charger off line, it may not be the proper charger that’s designed for that battery,” Jandernal says.
Jandernal explains that many times buyers want to save some money and choose to get these products from a random store or from a non-reputable dealer. He says two years ago, he responded to a fire caused by a scooter purchased this way.
“The scooter was not from a reputable company… Thankfully it was a small fire…the rug was on fire, actually, in their child’s room. And they were able to get the child out and call the fire department,” Jandernal says.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 19 people died in the United States in 2022 because of fires or overheating incidents related to lithium-ion battery-powered products. The New York Fire Department reported at least 208 fires last year, resulting in 142 people injured and six dead.
The state of New Jersey currently does not have anything worked into the fire code regarding these types of products.
“The state of New Jersey is working on adding requirements into the fire code to help us regulate where you can charge them, how you can charge them, where you can store them. It is a process and that’s coming,” Jandernal says.
He says that e-bikes and e-scooters should n to be charged inside bedrooms or near any combustible materials.
“Charge them in the garage…if there is a fire and you have smoke detectors, you'll get a little warning and be a little more safe of being able to get everybody out of your house,” Jandernal says.
Jandernal says that the fire code cycle is usually between four or five years. He says the new code should be released soon.


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