Daily News Portal

Rash of lithium-ion battery fires prompt many NYC apartment buildings to pull plug on


NEW YORK — E-bikes and lithium-ion batteries sparking deadly fires have now caused some apartment buildings to take action.

The numbers show just how frequent these fires are becoming, and how often they’re turning deadly.

Last year, the FDNY says e-bike batteries caused 220 fires, killing six people. Just four months into this year, batteries caused 59 fires, killing five people, including two on Monday night.

But as CBS2 found out on Tuesday, not everyone is on board with plans to ban the bikes.

READ MOREMayor Adams signs lithium-ion battery safety bills following latest deadly fire  

From a 7-year-old and 19-year-old killed in Queens this week to more than 40 people hurt on the Upper East Side in November, stories about lithium-ion battery fires are prompting more and more apartment buildings to pull the plug on e-bikes.

“I mean, it seems like they are a fire hazard,” said John Mutter, a resident of River Arts Apartments in Washington Heights.

The 500 people living at the River Arts Apartments recently got emails saying e-bikes are banned on the property.

“For me, it’s an extra level of safety,” Mutter said.

“I think for everybody’s safety it’s a good idea,” resident Aileen Chang said.

READ MOREThe Point: Daniel Nigro on fire dangers of lithium-ion batteries  

And as CBS2 reported, Glenwood Management banned the storage of e-bikes at all 26 of its properties back in November.

Earlier this year, Fordham University banned e-bikes and scooters from its campuses.

But delivery workers rely on e-bikes for work.

“I don’t think that is a good idea,” said William Medina of delivery worker advocacy group Los Deliveristas Unidos.

Medina is calling on City Hall to help delivery workers get safe, certified batteries.

“Our co-workers, they don’t have enough money to get these kind of batteries. The city needs to collaborate with delivery workers,” Medina said.

READ MORERep. Ritchie Torres introduces federal safety standards for lithium-ion batteries blamed for hundreds of fires  

Mayor Eric Adams has already signed several e-bike safety laws, including a ban on the sale of batteries that don’t meet safety standards.

But there’s no telling how many faulty batteries and chargers are already on the streets.

The city has also been working on a project to build charging stations for delivery workers to use during their work day.

“My co-workers, they don’t have properly space to charge the batteries. So they get forced to charge these batteries in the house,” Medina said.

The City Council is considering other options, including a bill that would require any business that uses e-bikes to provide employees with fireproof containers suitable for charging batteries.



Read More:Rash of lithium-ion battery fires prompt many NYC apartment buildings to pull plug on