October 24, 2022 – The National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) has created a new micromobility device safety webpage in response to the concerns fire officials have about the growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries that power electric bikes and electric scooters (e-bikes and e-scooters) as their popularity increases.
The webpage features information about why e-bikes and e-scooters catch fire, what some jurisdictions are doing to better regulate that risk, and what tips people can follow to stay safe if they use, store, or charge e-bikes or e-scooters. A free safety tip sheet is also available for download.
According to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), in New York City alone, battery-powered micromobility devices have sparked more than 130 fires so far in 2022, putting the city on pace for more than 160 e-bike or e-scooter fires this year. This number represents a roughly 50 percent increase over the 104 blazes the FDNY reported in 2021, which killed four people. Five people have died in such fires in 2022, including a 5-year-old girl who died in August from a blaze sparked by a charging e-scooter.
“People are increasingly using e-bikes and e-scooters as a means of alternative transportation for work, commuting, and recreational activities, but what many people may not know is that the batteries that power these devices pose a major fire risk if they are not charged or stored properly,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “Our goal with this webpage and tip sheet is to provide important safety information and action steps users can take to reduce their risk of injury.”
According to Allied Market Research, the global micromobility market is expected to grow from about $40 billion today to $215 billion by 2030, with much of that growth attributed to the boom in battery-powered electric devices. By 2023, roughly 300 million e-bikes are expected to be used on city streets worldwide.
NFPA recommends these tips when charging and storing e-bikes and e-scooters to help prevent fires:
- Only purchase and use devices, batteries, and charging equipment that are listed by a nationally recognized testing lab and labeled accordingly
- Only use the battery and the charger that were designed for, and came with, the device
- Do not keep charging the device or device battery after it is fully charged
- Store e-bikes, e-scooters, and batteries away from exit doors and anything that can get hot or catch fire
- Stop using the e-bike or e-scooter if you notice any of these problems with the battery: unusual odor; change in color; too much heat; change in shape; leaking, smoking, or not keeping a charge
- Do not put lithium-ion batteries in the trash. Recycling is always the best option. Take the batteries to a battery recycling location or contact your local waste department for disposal instructions
- Only have device repairs performed by a qualified professional
For an overview of the safety hazards associated with electric micromobility devices and the regulations proposed to address those hazards, see “Full Throttle,” a feature story that appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of NFPA Journal.
For more safety information about e-bikes and e-scooters and to download the free safety tip sheet, visit nfpa.org/ebikes.
Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275