FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh testifies before Congress on dangers of lithium-ion battery fires

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, July 27, 2023
FDNY Commissioner testifies on dangers of lithium-ion battery fires
FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh appeared in Washington D.C. on Thursday to testify about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries. Darla Miles has more.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WABC) -- FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh appeared before the Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington D.C. on Thursday to testify about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries.

Just last month, the FDNY announced measures to step up inspections and enforcement efforts of bike shops and bike repair shops citywide after a shop in the Lower East Side engulfed in flames, killing four people.

That incident was caused by a lithium-ion battery.

The ubiquity of these batteries, along with e-bikes and scooters, has spurred major concern - prompting Kavanagh to raise the alarm by urging the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish mandatory safety standards to help put an end to these devices from endangering homes.

"The number of fire incidents has rapidly increased. Other cities across the country have begun seeing these issues as well, and municipalities that are not yet experiencing this phenomenon may be facing similar incidents in the future," Kavanagh told the commission on Thursday.

As Kavanagh noted, the fires caused by these e-batteries don't smolder; they explode.

"We have reached a point of crisis in New York City, with ion batteries now a top cause of fatal fires in New York," she told commissioners.

Earlier this month, a vacate order was issued for an e-bike shop in Brooklyn after an excessive number of lithium-ion batteries were found.

With an estimated 65,000 e-bikes zipping through its streets - more than any other place in the U.S. - New York City is the epicenter of battery-related fires.

Thirteen people have died in battery fires this year alone in NYC and another 87 people were injured.

Nationally, there were more than 200 battery-related fires reported to the commission - an obvious undercount - from 39 states over the past two years, including 19 deaths blamed on so-called micromobility devices that include battery-powered scooters, bicycles and hoverboards.

In June, NYC officials announced receiving $25 million federal grant for e-bike charging stations across the city, which fire marshals hope will reduce the alarming number of fires.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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