NYC, FDNY stepping up enforcement, inspection on e-bike batteries after deadly fire

Tuesday’s deadly fire at an e-bike repair shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side has heightened concerns about the hazards of this popular form of transportation.

Mayor Eric Adams and FDNY officials met in Confucious Plaza in Chinatown Wednesday afternoon in an effort to educate and inform the public further about e- bikes and fire safety.

Four people died in Tuesday’s fire, which was sparked by a lithium-ion battery at the repair shop located on the first floor of a building housing multiple apartments.

“We’ve been sounding the alarm for months about lithium batteries, we need real action, not only on the state level but the federal level,” Adams said.

Adams said he accepts that e-bikes and e-scooters are necessary tools for many New Yorkers, which is why he wants residents to report concerns they may have.

“Effective immediately, 311 calls regarding questionable activity at bike repair shops or any other location where batteries are being charged will get a response from a local fire station within 12 hours, instead of the current 72 hours,” Adams said.

The FDNY set up an information table in Chinatown Wednesday and handed out flyers about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries which is all part of a bigger public awareness campaign.

“Things you should look for: batteries being charged less than three feet apart, multiple batteries being charged at once, extension cords and most especially batteries that look like they might be tampered with and locations that look like they are not properly licensed businesses,” Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

We continue to learn more about the victims which includes an 85-year-old man and his 74-year-old wife along with a 71-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman. Two other people remain in critical condition.

The owner of the business on Madison Street had been hit with a number of summonses prior to Tuesday’s fire.They include a citation in August 2022 for using extension cords to charge e-bikes.

And last month, officials cited the shop saying the number of batteries violated fire code.

Kavanagh said this latest incident is the 108th fire related to lithium-ion batteries this year, totaling 13 fatalities.

The Red Cross was providing emergency housing to eight households, including 23 adults and 2 children.

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