Published 5 July 2023
National Fire Chiefs Council alert public to e-bike and e-scooter fire safety advice
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is alerting the public to fire safety advice following an e-bike fire which tragically claimed the lives of a mother and two children in Cambridgeshire.
The latest incident is not the first to have caused fatalities, others have occurred in London, Merseyside and Bristol, as well as in cities across the world.
E-bikes and e-scooters are becoming increasingly popular and many fire services have reported an increase in incidents related to these products. The fires are often linked to the use of lithium batteries used to power them. Although lithium batteries are extensively used in many everyday products such as mobile phones. These are much smaller than the lithium battery packs needed to power an e-bike or e-scooter.
Lithium batteries store a significant amount of energy in a very small space. They are much more powerful than other types of battery.
If there is overheating or damage to the battery packs, overcharging or short circuiting (e.g., through water ingress), then a fault can easily occur within damaged battery cells which may cause the battery to fail catastrophically. The battery can explode and/or cause a rapidly developing fire.
The wrong chargers or substandard chargers and batteries will also significantly increase the fire risk.
Mark Hardingham Chair of NFCC said: “As e-bikes and e-scooters become more popular and a convenient and easy to use part of our everyday lives, fire services have seen them increasingly cause fires, some of those fires bringing tragic outcomes.
“We encourage people to buy from reputable retailers to be sure they are buying legal and safe e-bikes, batteries and chargers. People should also follow the simple fire safety advice on using, charging and storing these products to help reduce the risk of an e-bike or e-scooter fire”
The advice to consumers is if purchasing an e-bike or e-scooter, e-bike conversion kit, or replacement charger and batteries, only use a reputable retailer. There are many products available online which are substandard, do not meet safety requirements and can be extremely dangerous.
If you think you may have purchased a substandard product you should stop using it immediately and contact both the manufacturer and Trading Standards.
If you see any signs of fire such as the battery smoking or flames, raise the alarm, get out, stay out and call 999.
Always charge e-bikes clear of exits and away from your escape routes in case a fire does occur – if they catch fire they will block your only route out of your home.
Charge batteries in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and unplug them when the charge is complete.
Regularly inspect batteries for signs of damage. If you notice any damage then don’t charge or use the battery.
Only charge batteries when you are awake and alert so you can respond quickly and safely if a fire should occur – do not charge batteries when you are asleep.
If a battery is slow to charge or not holding charge it should be replaced. If it gets hot, bulges or you hear hissing noises when charging, unplug and don’t use it.
Install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home. Test them once a month to make sure they work.