Unregulated lithium-ion batteries used to power E-bikes pose a greater risk of starting fires, like the one that recently occurred in a neighborhood in New York City's Bronx borough.
A Florham Heights neighborhood which is located in the Bronx, New York City is recovering from a fire that completely destroyed a grocery store and a laundromat while displacing residents from the building directly behind the charred structure. Investigators were on the scene all through the night and into Monday morning, piecing together the possible cause of such a blaze. Early indications are pointing toward a lithium-ion battery that was being used to power an E-Bike.
Even though we are just beginning the year, this is already the 30th fire attributed to these lithium-ion batteries which are not regulated. This is a big concern for New York City leaders, as these fires tend to be difficult to put out and spread quickly, and in New York, a fire could cost many lives if it ignites a high-rise apartment building. According to ABC7, “Just last week, the New York City Council passed legislation banning the sale of unregulated lithium-ion batteries.”
The worry is that people may be storing these E-Bikes in their apartments or the basements of their apartments where they could randomly ignite and by the time anyone becomes aware of the fire, the entire building could be engulfed with flames. Just last month, the FDNY fire commissioner sent a letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requesting that they consider legislation to prevent the sale and use of unapproved refurbished batteries throughout the country.
FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said, “This could be in your home and if you can do this amount of damage to a store of this size, just think of the danger that it can confront — to yourself, to your family, to your building.” There were seven injuries due to the Bronx blaze, five of them were FDNY firefighters, a member of the Emergency Medical Service, and one civilian. All are in stable condition and thankful because the outcome could have been much worse.
This highlights how serious these fires can be when sparked by non-regulated refurbished lithium-ion batteries. The grocery store and laundromat are a complete loss, burned completely to the ground. The scale of the damage is the latest example of why city leaders have been pushing for swift regulations for these non-approved lithium-ion batteries used to operate E-Bikes and scooters.
Public education on how to handle and store these batteries in an effort to save lives is also much needed. New York City Mayor Eric Adams is quoted by ABC7 commenting on the problem, “We have to really adapt to the use of these batteries, we must make sure that the illegal batteries are not in the city.”
The loss of the supermarket and the laundromat impacts the local community as one less place to purchase fresh food and a place to clean your clothes. These facilities are usually overcrowded at best, and now the remaining businesses in the area will become even more crowded.
This E-Bike battery issue is a serious problem, so if you own one of these bikes with a non-regulated lithium-ion battery, contact your local fire department for information on storage or disposal of the battery before it causes you, your family, or your property harm because they are extremely dangerous.