The NYC council wants to introduce new legislation to prevent lithium battery explosions and fire
Following the fire that recently erupted in a Manhattan Midtown high-rise after an e-bike lithium battery exploded, the NYC Council finally held a hearing on several bills designated to prevent lithium battery accidents.
While some of the bills are supported by most, others are creating discontent among delivery workers who are the largest category of e-bikes users.
- Int 0656-2022 proposes that the FDNY develop an informational campaign to educate people about the fire risks posed by powered mobility devices. FDNY fully supports this proposal and is already running such campaigns.
- Int 0663-2022 proposes to prohibit the sales of batteries that have not been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized laboratory or similar approved organization. This bill is supported by the FDNY but opposed by delivery workers as certified batteries are more expensive. Safe tested batteries usually come with an “Underwriter Laboratories” label and those that are big enough to charge bikes used by delivery workers can cost more than $1000. As a result delivery workers usually can’t afford them and buy cheaper versions that have not been tested and have a much higher risk to catch fire.
- Int 0722-2022 would require the FDNY to prepare and publish a detailed annual report on safety measures to mitigate the risk of fire accidents caused by e-mobility lithium batteries. The FDNY does not support this bill and believe that gathering some of the data required for this report is not an adequate use of resources.
- Int 0749-2022 proposes to develop educational material for delivery workers on how to use, charge and store mobility devices. Employers using delivery workers would be required to distribute this material to their workers. There are no objections to this bill.
- Int 0752-2022 proposes to prohibit the assembly and sale of refurbished or second use lithium-ion battery. Anyone violating this bill would be subject to a civil penalty. Refurbished lithium-ion batteries have a much higher risk to catch fire and the FDNY supports this bill. Delivery workers are against this bill as refurbished batteries are a cheaper alternative for them.
Obviously solutions need to be found to protect New Yorkers from residential fires while at the same time making sure that delivery workers and other mobility device users can afford to use their devices.