In New York City Alone, FDNY Reports Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries Have Caused More Than 400 Fires Over Last Four Years, Resulting In More Than 300 Injuries, 12 Deaths & Damage To More Than 320 Structures; Long Island Officials Also Worried About These Dangerous Batteries
Standing With Victims, Schumer, Gillibrand, Rep. Torres Announce Major Plan & Legislation Called “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act”; Law Would FINALLY Set Safety Standards For Lithium-Ion Batteries In E-Mobility Devices To Protect People & Responders From Deadly Explosions
Schumer: Across NYC Alone, There Have Been Over 400 Fires From Lithium-Ion Batteries—And It Will Get Worse If We Do Nothing
Standing with local families whose lives have forever changed because of recent lithium-ion fires, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Ritchie Torres and FDNY announced a push to pass bipartisan legislation called the “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act.” Schumer revealed that over the past few years, there has been a growing number of fires across NYC, Long Island and beyond caused by lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes and e-scooters. There were 216 of these battery fires last year, a dramatic increase from the 44 that occurred in 2020. This year, there have already been 30 battery fires in NYC, which have left 40 injured and 2 dead.
“We are in a time where technology is outpacing federal safety action in many ways, moving faster than the measures we need to keep the public safe, and there might be no better example of this dilemma than with the cheap, china-made lithium-ion batteries in the e-bikes, e-scooters and other devices that are now as common in the home as a toaster —but far, far less regulated,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “So, we are here today because the fires and the injuries caused by these batteries are climbing across New York and federal action is needed to protect consumers and also our brave firefighters who are on the front lines of this new paradigm in fire prevention spurred by these unpredictable, and often times, very dangerous batteries.”
“It is clear that strong federal action is needed to address the faulty and improperly manufactured lithium-ion batteries that have caused hundreds of fires in New York City over the past few years, several of which have resulted in serious injuries and death,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “The Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act would require the creation of the first ever mandatory consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in micromobility devices, which would help prevent tragedies in our city, our state, and our country. I’m proud to be leading this bill in the Senate with Leader Schumer and will continue working on efforts to improve the safety of e-bikes and other micromobility devices.”
FDNY and other stakeholders said they need federal action to fight these fires. One of the steps that Schumer, Gillibrand and Torres said is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission needs to enact a final consumer safety standard for lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes and e-scooters. No federal consumer safety standard currently exists for such batteries, which has helped allow the cheap, faulty, China-made batteries that have been the cause of most of the NYC fires to remain available. Families spoke and Schumer showcased the batteries that are a threat to NYC, LI and beyond.
“Too many times we’ve been reminded of the escalating and continuing threat unregulated and dangerous lithium-ion batteries pose to the public’s safety and to our brave first responders who risk their lives to save people and property,” said Rep. Torres. “The federal government must act because this problem is not isolated to only New York City. We’re seeing these batteries cause devastating fires across the country. I am grateful to my colleagues from the New York Congressional delegation who have come together in a bipartisan way to work to create and implement for the first time national safety standards for lithium-ion batteries in order to protect people and communities from unreasonable risk, serious injury or damage, and/or death.”
“The Worker’s Justice Project and Los Deliveristas Unidos are proud to partner with local, state and federal government leaders to build a safer and more sustainable future for all New Yorkers,” said Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Worker’s Justice Project, which organized Los Deliveristas Unidos. “Addressing the safety challenges caused by lithium-ion batteries requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and we thank Sens. Gillibrand and Schumer, Rep. Torres and FDNY Commissioner Kavanagh for ensuring that New York City’s more than 65,000 essential delivery workers have a seat at the table. Together, we can solve this important issue while continuing the necessary work to guarantee a living wage and safe working conditions for all.”
The bill Schumer, Gillibrand and Torres pushed today would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to promulgate a consumer product safety standard with respect to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in personal mobility devices, and for other purposes.
“In their current form, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, such as the kind used in electric scooters and bikes, are a serious fire hazard which have caused numerous and often fatal electrical fires on Long Island and across the country,” said Rep. Garbarino. “The fires burn hot, fast and, due to the lithium ion contained in the batteries, spread chemicals which further endanger firefighters and civilians alike with toxic exposure. This bill would establish a final consumer product safety standard for these products to prevent more devastating fires from occurring in the future.”
“Unfortunately, our communities are tragically aware of the danger posed by lithium-ion batteries,” said Rep. Clarke. “The destructive and sometimes deadly fires they have caused are commonplace in New York neighborhoods and across America. Producers of these batteries have a responsibility to mitigate these unreasonable risks in their products. I’m proud to support this critical legislation to require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create a strong national standard for lithium-ion batteries and keep Americans safe from avoidable harms.”
Other members of the New York Congressional delegation who have signed on as co-sponsors include U.S. Reps. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Pat Ryan (NY-18), Anthony D’Esposito (NY-04), Dan Goldman (NY-10), and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16).
According to FDNY Commissoner Laura Kavanagh, on Feb. 13, a fire erupted in a home in Brooklyn, ultimately claiming the life of a woman in the home. On Jan. 25, a fire in Queens injured 18 people, including a child removed in critical condition. On Nov. 5, 2022, a fire on the 20th floor of a Manhattan apartment building forced two occupants to hang from a window to escape the choking black smoke.
“They are alive today only because of the heroic rescue and emergency medical care by our members. The common denominator of these fires? Each was caused by a lithium-ion battery,” Kavanagh penned in an AMNY op-ed. “These are just three of more than 400 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries in New York City in the last four years. These fires start quickly, grow rapidly, offer little time to escape, consume everything in their path, and are very difficult to extinguish.”
According to FDNY, Lithium-Ion batteries are used in various devices. These batteries are commonly used in cell phones, laptops, tablets, electric cars, and scooters. 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.
Be #FDNYSmart if using any devices powered by lithium-ion batteries:
· When purchasing devices, be sure that the equipment has the Underwriters Laboratories Mark. The UL mark shows that the product has been safety tested.
· Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage.
· Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or on a couch.
· Always use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made specifically for the device.
· Keep batteries/devices at room temperature. Do not place in direct sunlight.
· Store batteries away from anything flammable.
· If a battery overheats or you notice an odor, change in shape/color, leaking, or odd noises from a device discontinue use immediately. If safe to do so, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 9-1-1.