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FDNY, Sheriff's Office inspection reveals hundreds of battery charging, storage violations at shops

Published February 27, 2023

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — After another fire in the city Friday that officials say was caused by a lithium-ion battery, FDNY and sheriff's office officials inspected five Manhattan bike shops and other locations and found improper storage and charging of hundreds of batteries and dozens of e-mobility devices that violated fire codes.

A total of 25 fire protection inspectors, marshals, and City of New York Sheriff's deputies identified "numerous dangerous conditions, unsafe electrical practices, and other assorted fire safety violations. ...," according to a FDNY Instagram post.

That led to 11 FDNY summonses, 14 violation orders, and six criminal summonses.

"We inspected these locations to see if they violate the city's fire code," Sheriff Anthony Miranda told the New York Daily News on Friday. "It's a holistic response to this dangerous situation. These shops are in buildings with families living above them so these stores aren't only a danger to themselves, but to everyone around them.

"The joint operation was successful and several violations were issued by FDNY. The infractions observed presented serious safety concerns that were immediately addressed. We will continue to work with the FDNY in their enforcement efforts and follow-up investigations into businesses operating in violation of the law."

In one shop, which the Daily News said was located in Chinatown, inspectors photographed and posted on Instagram and Twitter a wall of lithium-ion batteries being  charged on shelves, using several extension cords.

Friday morning's fire in the Bronx injured three civilians and one firefighter. In 2023 so far, FDNY responded to an average of three lithium-ion battery fires a week, officials told the Daily News. A 67-year-old woman who was critically injured when a lithium-ion battery started a fire in her Brooklyn apartment building on Feb. 14, died later, according to the Daily News.

In 2022, FDNY said there were 220 fires, 147 injuries, and six deaths from lithium-ion fires in the city.

Also Friday, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh held a public safety briefing, giving an update on the increasing number of lithium-ion battery-related fires. "It is alarming and dangerous. That's why I am urging all New Yorkers to take a closer look at what they are buying to ensure the items are certified by UL or another testing and certification company."

The New York City Council is considering bills to address lithium-ion battery safety, with the FDNY already agreeing with the language. The bills include prohibiting the sale and assembly of second-hand batteries that have been assembled or reconditioned, and requiring mobility device batteries to be listed and labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory or other approved organization to be sold.

The next city council meeting will be Thursday. The city council press secretary told BRAIN late last week it's not known if the bills will be on the agenda.

Chinatown shop with a wall of lithium-ion batteries being  charged.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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