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Tags: e-bike, safety

Rising concerns over e-bike and e-scooter fire risks prompt calls for regulatory reform

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New Home Office data highlights fire safety challenges with e-bikes and e-scooters

In response to newly released Home Office statistics revealing an increase in fires, fatalities, and injuries associated with e-bikes and e-scooters, leading safety authorities have expressed concern.

Phil Clark, Emerging Energy Technologies Lead for the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), and Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First (ESF), jointly emphasised the need for comprehensive regulatory updates to mitigate these risks.

According to the statement: “NFCC and Electrical Safety First have long been warning of the fire safety risks posed by poorly manufactured or converted e-bikes and e-scooter batteries, and have been calling for urgent regulatory and legislative changes to help keep people safe.

“Through raising awareness of these risks, we are now in a place whereby English fire and rescue services are capturing more of this information, and that will give us a clearer picture as to the scale of that risk.”

The call for enhanced safety standards and regulations

The officials noted that the current data, although conservative, suggests a significant underestimation of the problem.

Highlighting a specific example, they mentioned that “London Fire Brigade’s attendance at 179 incidents in 2023 alone” points to a larger issue.

The rapid advancement of technology, they argue, while beneficial for sustainable transportation, necessitates equally swift legislative and regulatory advancements to ensure consumer safety.

The risks associated with substandard battery and charger manufacturing practices can be severe, potentially resulting in life-threatening accidents.

The statement further outlined the critical need for multi-sectoral cooperation to address these challenges: “Tackling this worrying trend is going to take a multi-partner, multi-pronged approach.

“Industry must step up to the challenge, developing their own appropriate guidance and ensuring products are safe.”

Government’s role in ensuring product safety

The government’s involvement is deemed essential for the introduction of necessary legislative measures and product standards.

Clark and Rudd urged for the implementation of third-party safety certifications for e-bikes and e-scooters before they enter the market, akin to other high-risk products.

They also stressed the importance of regulations aimed at proper disposal methods to prevent battery-related fires in the waste industry.

Concluding their statement, they emphasised the importance of ongoing efforts to combat the sale of sub-standard products online and the use of potentially unsafe e-bike conversion kits by untrained individuals: “With an apparent increase in sub-standard products being sold online, and the emergence of e-bike conversion kits and modifications being undertaken by people without the necessary skills and knowledge, NFCC and Electrical Safety First will continue to work with partners to improve regulations and further raise public awareness in this area, aiming to reduce the risks and ultimately save lives.”

IFSJ Comment

The highlighted concerns and calls for action by NFCC and ESF bring to the forefront the critical need for robust safety measures and stringent regulatory oversight in the rapidly evolving market of e-bikes and e-scooters.

Their proactive approach not only aims to mitigate immediate fire risks but also to establish long-term safety protocols that could potentially save lives.

This issue underscores the importance of collaboration between industry leaders, government agencies, and safety organisations to enhance consumer protection and safety standards.

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