New York Daily News

Lives matter more than batteries


Somewhere soon in New York City, maybe even today, a lithium-ion battery for an e-bike is going to cause a fire. It’s an easy prediction to make because in the first 10 weeks of this year, 70 days, there were 33 of these things igniting and bringing in the FDNY. And the human toll of 42 injured and two dead will only rise. Having these dangerous and deadly fires every other day is unacceptab­le.

Thankfully, the five-alarm conflagrat­ion that destroyed a supermarke­t and a row of stores in the Bronx last weekend didn’t kill anyone. We won’t always be so lucky.

On the front line is Fire Commission­er Laura Kavanagh and the FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Prevention. Friday, at a City Hall briefing she told how fire inspectors found more than 100 e-bikes, and much more dangerousl­y, more than 200 batteries stored and charging in a Manhattan garage. Each one is a potential time bomb and the required two feet between each battery was ignored. Overheatin­g in one battery can lead to thermal runaway and a fire. That fire then causes a chain reaction, heating up and igniting nearby batteries. Remember, a single battery is enough to cause massive destructio­n, as happened in the Bronx.

The City Council passed a bunch of lithium-ion battery safety bills days before the Bronx fire. In Washington, Rep. Ritchie Torres has a bill to make the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission issue safety standards on the devices. Good and good.

We are less sure about Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s call to build public charging and storage stations. The problem is the batteries themselves. If the batteries — especially the cheaper ones without the Underwrite­r Laboratori­es UL sticker or label or those that are refurbishe­d or secondhand — are prone to exploding, the danger is just being centralize­d and amplified, rather than banning the bad ones.

There will be more fires, injuries and deaths from these batteries. Listen to the FDNY and never charge them unattended or overnight. The convenienc­e is not worth the danger.

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