E-bikes caused a year’s worth of fires in last two months, New York fire chief warns — RT World News

Battery-powered transportation soared in popularity during the pandemic, but the devices have since become time bombs

Lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes and scooters have caused more fires in the past two months than in all of 2019, the chief of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) told the New York Post.

The New York County Sheriff's Department recorded 30 fires involving lithium batteries in 2019, a number that more than tripled to 104 in 2021, and rose to 268 last year. In the first two months of 2024, 31 such fires have already been recorded, and the fires caused 26 injuries and one death, according to the figures mentioned by the center. mail.

Indian journalist Fazil Khan was killed last week when a lithium-ion battery caught fire in the hallway of a Harlem apartment. Residents of the upper floors were trapped inside the building, while 18 other people were injured.

Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn told the newspaper that the popularity of e-bikes and scooters has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, when unemployed people purchased the devices to work on them. “gig economy” Delivery jobs.

“People bought these devices about three years ago, and now they're outdated.” Flynn said, noting that shoddy repairs and replacement of individual battery cells — rather than entire battery modules — increase the risk of deadly fires.

“We've seen people trying to repair or modify it themselves, going to stores from unauthorized sellers or taking it upon themselves to replace old batteries.” He said. “We are asking people not to use the cheapest option and look for the manufacturer directly.”

Lithium-ion batteries can catch fire if they overheat, or if the battery body is punctured. Lithium can burn violently in contact with air, and once ignited, lithium fires are impossible to extinguish with water, because the burning chemical simply uses the oxygen in the water as fuel.

The FDNY has formed a lithium-ion battery task force to combat the problem, and officers regularly check companies that offer to repair individual battery cells.

“They kill people, they have killed people, and they will kill more people if companies continue to operate this way.” Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh warned last month.

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