Families, lawmakers push to regulate lithium-ion batteries

Crystal Cranmore Image
Sunday, April 23, 2023
Families, lawmakers push to regulate lithium-ion batteries
According to the FDNY, there were 216 lithium-ion battery fires last year, up from 40 in 2020. Crystal Cranmore has more.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Alfonso Villa's burn scars healed after a fire at his Queens home last September. However, inside there is still a lot of pain after losing his eight-year-old girl, Stephanie. The cause of the fire - a Lithium-ion battery the family was charging inside the home for an e-scooter.

"We were sleeping and the fire was all over," said Villa.

On Sunday, Villa was among those looking for a call to action with senators Schumer and Gillibrand. The lawmakers are pushing for the 'Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium Ion Batteries Act,' which would set federal safety guidelines.

"We cannot allow for faulty or improperly manufactured batteries to keep causing these dangerous, deadly fires," said Senator Gillibrand.

According to the FDNY, there were 216 lithium-ion battery fires last year, up from 40 in 2020.

"For first responders, these are dangerous. Just this year alone, we've had 63 fires and five deaths. We don't want to see that happen again," said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.

Just last month, city council passed a series of bills to regulate the batteries.

"Without federal legislation, we will not have a complete solution," said Senator Schumer.

Delivery workers in the city who often use e-bikes, support the proposed legislation.

Gustavo Ajche says it comes down to cost and education.

"The battery is a good quality, but there are cheaper ones, but it's dangerous," Ajche said.

Experts recommend only using a charger that comes with your device and never charging the battery next to flammable material.

For the Villa family, regulation is key.

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else," Villa said.

Congressman Ritchie Torres is sponsoring a House version of the bill.

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