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Perspectives

Concerns Grow About Battery Fires in Electric Bikes

             In recent months, there have been a number of fires in residential buildings originating with electric bicycles with lithium-ion batteries, including some that resulted in fatalities.  Coop and condo boards may wish to consider reminding their owners and residents about safe practices concerning these devices.

Among other things, only e-bikes or other mobility devices that are certified by nationally recognized testing laboratories should be allowed in buildings.  Bike owners should use only the original battery, power adapter, and power cord that come with the e-bike or manufacturer-recommended or lab-certified replacements.  The e-bike should be plugged directly into a wall outlet when charging, not an extension cord or power strip.  Chargers and batteries should be stored in a safe facility, outside the apartments if possible.  A battery should never be charged unless someone is present, and one should immediately stop charging and call 911 in the event of fire, smoke, overheating, leakage, or any unusual smells or noises.

The New York City Fire Department will also be requiring all building owners and landlords to post notices concerning safe practices for e-bike chargers.  The legal requirement to post the notices will take effect on April 30, 2023, but we expect that the notices will be available sooner.