After a faulty scooter battery caused yet another massive fire in New York City on the weekend, U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres introduced new federal legislation in an effort to avoid fires sparked by lithium-ion batteries. Sunday’s blaze, ignited by a charging scooter battery that suddenly burst into flames as shown by surveillance footage published by the New York Fire Department (FDNY), is the latest in a string of fires related to lithium-ion batteries.
“In all of these fires, these lithium-ion fires, it is not a slow burn there’s not a small amount of fire, it literally explodes,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said on Sunday. “It’s a tremendous volume of fire as soon as it happens, and it’s very difficult to extinguish and so it’s particularly dangerous.” By the end of February, lithium-ion batteries had already caused 30 fires in New York City this year, killing two people and injuring 40. According to the fire department, that’s more than the total of battery-related fires seen in 2019, with such incidents roughly doubling every year since then. In 2022, the FDNY attributed 216 fires to faulty batteries, resulting in calls for better regulation and safety standards.
The “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act” introduced by Rep. Torres would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a final consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in personal mobility devices, such as electric scooters and bikes, to protect against the risk of fires caused by such batteries. “We were reminded yet again this past weekend of the escalating threat lithium-ion batteries poses to the public’s safety,” said Rep. Torres. “This problem is not isolated to just New York. We must work to create and implement national safety standards for lithium-ion batteries in order to protect people and places from unreasonable risk, serious injury or damage, and/or death.”
The FDNY has published safety tips for the use and handling of lithium-ion batteries.