FDNY issues warning after e-bike batteries spark multiple fires within a week

While recent incidents have caused injuries, a battery-related fire earlier in the year killed a 9-year-old boy


Joseph Ostapiuk
Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The FDNY issued a stark warning on Monday after lithium-ion batteries were the cause of four separate fires in New York City in a one-week span.

The latest incidents come less than two months after it was determined a charging e-bike battery sparked a fatal fire that killed a 9-year-old boy in Queens.

Lithium-ion batteries are used in cellphones, laptops, tablets, electric cars and scooters.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in cellphones, laptops, tablets, electric cars and scooters. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

"FDNY urges New Yorkers to follow the manufacturer's instructions for charging and storing lithium-ion batteries," the department wrote on Facebook. "Lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy and can pose a threat if not treated properly. Like any product, a small number of these batteries are defective. They can overheat, catch fire, or explode."

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in cell phones, laptops, tablets, electric cars and scooters. Officials said some "aftermarket" batteries are not made with necessary safety standards and are therefore risky to charge.

The FDNY said 12 electric bicycles on the fifth floor of a residential building in Brooklyn were charging at the time of a fire on Oct. 9, 2021, which led to a total of four injuries.

Three days later, a two-alarm fire in the Bronx caused one person to be seriously injured, the FDNY said, and a separate fire in Brooklyn was caused by a lithium-ion battery.

Late last week, another fire in the Bronx was sparked by an exploding lithium-ion battery, according to the department.

The FDNY recommends residents purchase and use devices that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory and are careful to follow the manufacturer's instructions for charging and storage.

Additionally, devices should not be charged under a pillow, bed or couch. The manufacturer's power cord and adapter should always be used to charge electronics.

When charging, keep devices at room temperature and away from anything flammable.

If a battery does overheat, or if an odor is emanating from the device, stop using it immediately. If it is safe to do so, the FDNY recommends moving the device away from flammable items and for residents to call 911.

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(c)2021 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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