Fires Sparked by Lithium-Ion Batteries Causing “An Absolute Crisis in NYC,” FDNY Commissioner Says

Fires Sparked by Lithium-Ion Batteries Causing “An Absolute Crisis in NYC,” FDNY Commissioner Says

By Yehudit Garmaise

"What you don't know about buying uncertified lithium-ion batteries can kill you," FDNY officials say five days after a Brooklyn grandmother, her son, and grandson died from smoke inhalation after a three-alarm fire.

"There’s no time to get out,” FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens said about the ferocious and deadly fires that lithium-ion batteries can spark. “Such fires start to smolder, and in 20-30 seconds, they erupt into flames.

The charred remnants of the two e-scooters were seen outside the building afterward,.

“We are on track to surpass 100 fire deaths this year,” said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh after lithium-ion batteries caused 239 fires this year. “That is an extraordinary number not seen in decades."

Although city officials urged Congress to create federal safety standards for lithium-ion batteries that the U.S. imports from other countries, New Yorkers’ ignorance of the grave dangers of lithium-ions batteries presents the largest risk of the deadly fires that break out.

"The most problematic issue is that residents are not aware of the fire risks of using lithium-ion batteries,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell. “In fact, we're seeing less than half of people who purchase these products have any concept of their dangers." 

"This is absolutely a crisis facing New York City,” said Kavanagh, who, along with federal agencies and national organizations, announced a new campaign called to raise awareness that lithium-ion batteries can spark ferocious and deadly fires.

The new safety campaign called “Take CHARGE,” stands for:

"C”- Certified products and inspected items are the only lithium-ion battery products to buy.

"H" - Handle lithium-ion batteries with care, which means following the manufacturer's instructions.

"A " - Always stay alert for issues.

"R "- Recycle lithium-ion batteries responsibly.

"G" - Get out immediately when a fire breaks out.

"E"  - Educate others about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries.

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