FDNY Commissioner Urges Amazon to Sell Only Regulated Lithium-Ion Batteries to Prevent Deadly Fires

FDNY Commissioner Urges Amazon to Sell Only Regulated Lithium-Ion Batteries to Prevent Deadly Fires

By Yehudit Garmaise

To fight the scourge of devastating fires sparked by lithium-ion batteries that do not meet legal safety standards, on Sunday, New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh sent Amazon a letter urging the retail giant to sell only lithium-ion batteries and powered micro-mobility devices that meet legal safety standards.

“Amazon is in a position to save lives by reducing the number of prohibited devices on the streets of New York,” Commissioner Kavanaugh wrote to David Zapolsky, a lawyer who serves as Amazon’s senior vice president for global public policy. “We are aware that batteries that do not meet [federal safety standards] are available for sale on Amazon. 

“These batteries are directly contributing to an increase in fire incidents and endangering the lives of New Yorkers.”

As of July, 108 fires in New York City were caused by the lithium-ion batteries that power electric scooters and bikes.

At least 13 New Yorkers have been killed, and 66 residents have been injured from the frequent fires sparked by the batteries that are incredibly dangerous when they do not meet legal safety standards.

Those numbers have continued to rise since last year when lithium-ion batteries caused 98 fires that killed two New Yorkers and injured 40 residents.

“Please confirm that only devices that meet legal standards are sold to New Yorkers via your website,” Commissioner Kavanaugh wrote.

New York City has taken its own measures to fight lithium-ion fires.

As of September 16, NYC local law 39 prohibits selling, leasing, renting, or distributing powered micro-mobility devices like e-bikes and e-scooters whose electrical systems and batteries have been certified by an accredited testing laboratory for compliance with Underwriters Laboratories standards. 

On June 1, Amazon executives reassured officials from Adams’ administration that the retail giant was “in the process of updating its policy and controls” to ensure that all lithium-ion batteries adhere to the same legal safety standards that New York City now upholds.

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