E-bike fires are getting more common the more these machines fill the streets of NYC. Multiple research groups have called Lithium-Ion batteries’ safety into question, including Consumer Reports. In a place like NYC, where millions of people live in close proximity – not to mention the amount of E-bike delivery drivers – these battery fires are a real threat. This latest battery explosion in NYC’s East Village killed one person and injured seven.
Are E-bike batteries safe?
According to Jalopnik, the FDNY responded to a call about an explosion late last week in the East Village. The Fire Department found a 32-year-old man charging nine E-bike batteries in his apt overnight. One of these batteries overheated and exploded causes a fire in the building. Jalopnik notes, the fire was so intense that the windows in the apartment were blown out. Furthermore, the initial explosion was so powerful it knocked out a wall in the apartment.
The blast rained debris on two teenagers sleeping in the next room. Tragically, the inferno took the life of the man in the room. The blaze grew until witnesses saw two teen siblings escape the conflagration by climbing out of a fourth-floor window and down a construction conduit in a harrowing act of bravery.
The victim’s girlfriend – the teens’ 42-year-old mother – was trapped in the burning apartment. Neighbors attempted to get into the burning unit to save her but couldn’t get in. Amazingly, the FDNY responded to the call in only four minutes but also struggled to get into the blazing unit. The mother was eventually extracted and is now in critical condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Four others nearby were injured by the blast.
Why were there so many E-bikes in one apartment?
The Daily News was told by neighbors that the victim repaired E-bikes, which is why he had so many. There were seven of the machines found in the apartment.
As noted by Jalopnik, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, “Last year we had 44 fires and no deaths, this year we have had 93 fires, more than 70 injuries and now four deaths caused by lithium-ion battery fires.”
The FDNY has had its eye on the lithium-Ion batteries that power E-bikes for a while now. After dozens of E-bike fires, it has become official FDNY policy that E-bikes must be left outside of ambulances and hospitals due to the fire risk. These bikes have become massively popular for many workers in urban areas, increasing the fire risk.
Why are Lithium-Ion batteries exploding?
The popularity has increased demand and subsequently lowered the Lithium-Ion batteries quality. This decrease in quality, along with the potential for poor user upkeep, has made the chances of E-bike fires all the more probable.
According to Bicycle.com, You shouldn’t use e-bike batteries that have been dropped, punctured, crushed, or otherwise damaged in any way. Although they may look alright, the internal damage can be much worse than it appears. If the cells contact each other, the battery can overheat and ignite or, in this case, explode.