June 21, 2023
Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_DZTkQHBg0
FDNY to Expedite Investigations Into Complaints Made Via 311 About Unsafe Charging Practices at Bike Stores and Repair Shops
New York – New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, and New York City Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Kevin D. Kim today announced a new action plan to expedite investigations into complaints made via 311 about potentially hazardous conditions involving lithium-ion batteries at bike shops and bike repair shops within the five boroughs. Additionally, Mayor Adams and administration officials announced a joint comprehensive outreach and education campaign to educate bike shop and bike repair shop owners about the dangers presented by lithium-ion batteries and best practices to avoid fires. Today's announcement comes on the heels of a deadly fire at 80 Madison Street yesterday morning caused by a lithium-ion battery at the e-bike shop – just the latest in the 108 lithium-ion fires within New York City so far this year – that resulted in four deaths. Year to date, there have been at least 13 deaths and 66 injuries in New York City due to lithium-ion batteries.
"While e-bikes are an important part of our transportation network and essential to many small businesses, our message is clear: There will be zero tolerance for any activity that puts New Yorkers at risk. We have been sounding the alarm for months about lithium-ion batteries and the dangers these items when used improperly can pose to New Yorkers. But we are committed to leading the nation in identifying proactive ways to both increase enforcement against those improperly using lithium-ion batteries while simultaneously educating users on how to best use these products," said Mayor Adams. "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 the local fire station within 12 hours in an effort to save lives. And we will also be stepping up our education efforts to help anyone using an e-bike or charging batteries understand the safety rules and regulations as well as the risks involved with using these products."
"We are devastated by the losses suffered at the fire at the e-bike store in Chinatown. Too many people have lost their lives because of lithium-ion batteries, and we are grateful to partner with the city's SBS to educate shop owners on the dangers presented by them," said FDNY Commissioner Kavanagh. "We will continue to target this issue from all angles, and this partnership is the next logical step in getting the message out about safe practices for all micro-mobility retailers and users."
"We are heartbroken by the loss of life in Chinatown and are eager to work with FDNY and other city partners to educate business owners on safety measures to protect both their lives and livelihoods," said SBS Commissioner Kim. "Together, with the FDNY, SBS will provide safety information in 11 languages starting in Chinatown, and going citywide. Through robust education, we can prevent further tragedies and keep New Yorkers safe."
The FDNY is encouraging New Yorkers who see questionable activity related to lithium-ion batteries at bike shops and bike repair shops to call 311 and lodge a complaint. Questionable activity for charging lithium-ion batteries may include large numbers of batteries being charged close together, mazes of extension cords, sale of batteries that appear to be refurbished, or informal charging centers that do not appear to be properly licensed businesses. Members of the FDNY will respond to the complaint within 12 hours and take necessary action to relieve any hazardous conditions on the premises. Actions may include issuing violations and, in some cases, vacate orders. The FDNY has also instructed members to prioritize any complaint related to lithium-ion batteries and respond and investigate as soon as possible.
Under today's announced partnership, FDNY and SBS teams will focus on educating the public on the safety risks associated with after-market batteries, and those that have been repaired. The teams will conduct educational outreach at every bike shop and bike repair shop in New York City over the coming weeks. The SBS mobile recreational vehicle has high visibility and will be deployed to help promote FDNY messaging for safe practices for lithium-ion batteries. FDNY's Fire Safety and Education Unit members will also pass out educational materials in multiple languages in neighborhoods all over the city. FDNY and SBS will utilize their targeted outreach teams to speak directly with business owners in addition to working with community partners to expand their reach as well.
A full list of educational materials on lithium-ion batteries can be found online.