Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service warn of unsafe e-bike and e-scooter batteries

e-scooter image Shutterstock R.Classen
Image: Shutterstock/R.Classen

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) has issued a warning of the dangers of low-quality e-bikes and e-scooters that may have unsafe batteries which have led to fires.

The popularity of electric vehicles such as e-scooters and e-bikes has grown in recent years, as people look for more cost-effective forms of transport, and while many are safe the technology used by their lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous.

Battery-powered vehicles like e-bikes and e-scooters can be charged at home using plug-in chargers, much like charging a mobile phone.

But their lithium-ion is a relatively new form of technology that isn’t as regulated as some others.

Batteries with a flawed design, low-quality components or poor charging hardware have frequently been known to overheat and can lead to catastrophic failure which can result in fire or an explosion.

Even if a fire is extinguished, it is common for a lithium-ion battery fire to start again.

Aftermath of fire caused by electric bike left on charge that caught fire and caused extensive damage. Image: BFRS.
Aftermath of fire caused by electric bike left on charge that caught fire and caused extensive damage. Image: BFRS.

In the warning, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service say that a report by Electrical Safety First warned, “there is growing concern over the rise in fatalities, injuries and devastating fires from electric bikes (e-bikes) and electric scooters (e-scooters).”

The report goes on to say that “in the first three months of 2023 alone, fires from lithium-ion batteries used to power these devices had already taken four lives in the UK, left others hospitalised or seriously injured and caused extensive damage to property.”

BFRS is now calling on people to buy their e-bikes or e-scooters only from reputable dealers so they can be sure vigorous testing and safety checks have been made.

They have also issued a five-point list to make sure you stay safe.

  1. Only buy e-bikes, e-scooters and chargers and batteries from reputable retailers
  2. Register your product with the manufacturer to validate any warranties – batteries are usually included in warranties. Registering makes it easier for manufacturers to contact you in the event of safety or recall information.
  3. Avoid storing or charging e-bikes and e-scooters on escape routes or in communal areas of a multi-occupied building. If there’s a fire, it can affect people’s ability to escape.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging and always unplug your charger when it’s finished charging.
  5. Make sure you have working smoke alarms. If you charge or store your e-bike or e-scooter in a garage or kitchen, install detection, we recommend heat alarms rather than smoke detectors for these areas.

More information can be found at the BFRS website.

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