Firefighters have issued an urgent e-bike safety warning following a serious blaze at a block of flats in Shepherd’s Bush less than a mile from Grenfell tower this week.
At the height of the incident, 60 firefighters were tackling the fire in a 12th floor flat. Fire crews led six people to safety and one man was taken to hospital.
The Brigade’s fire investigators have determined the blaze was accidental and caused by the failure of an e-bike’s lithium-ion battery.
London’s firefighters have seen a huge spike in e-bike and e-scooter incidents as they have become more popular in recent years and have issued several warnings about how ferocious the fires can be.
Just this year, crews have already attended 32 fires involving e-bikes and another seven involving e-scooters. So far in 2022, there have been a further 17 fires involving other lithium-ion batteries and last year, in total there were more than 100 fires in the capital involving lithium-ion batteries.
The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “It’s incredibly concerning that we are continuing to see a rise in incidents involving e-bikes.
“When these batteries and chargers fail, they do so with ferocity and because the fires develop so rapidly the situation can quickly become incredibly serious.
These items are often stored in communal areas and corridors and can block people’s only means of escape.
Another issue with fires involving lithium-ion batteries and which was discovered at this weeks fire is that when they fail, they eject their contents over a wide area which can lead to multiple areas of burning in the room where the fire has started.
The Brigade’s advice is to never store e-bikes or e-scooters in communal areas as if they are involved in a fire, it can easily block the only means of escape.
Fire investigators have determined that many of the e-bike incidents have involved e-bike conversion kits (to convert a standard push bike into an electric bike rather than purpose built ones). These only provide the motors and control gear but batteries must be sourced separately.
Assistant Commissioner Pugsley added: “There is a significant risk posed by the e-bikes which have been converted and we are predominantly seeing fires in ones which have been purchased from online market places and batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.
Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to failure if incorrect chargers are used.
London’s Fire Brigade advice is to try and store and charge these items in a safe location if possible, such as in a shed or garage, and if they have to be stored inside, make sure there is smoke detection fitted and your means of escape is not obstructed.
However, this won’t be possible for everyone, so if you are charging them indoors, please follow advice on using safe charging and ensure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire.
- Make sure they are charged in a room where there is smoke detection and on a hard, flat surface.
- Try not to charge them when they are asleep, so that if there is an issue they can react quickly.”
You can get fire safety advice tailored to your home by using Home Fire Safety Checker. It will allow you to carry out a thorough check of you home in only a few minutes.
A spokesperson from Hammersmith and Fulham Council said: “We are grateful to the emergency services for their speedy response yesterday.
We urge all residents to follow London Fire Brigade’s advice when charging e-scooters and e-bikes at home.
These batteries and chargers, often bought unregulated on the internet, are highly dangerous and expose people to unacceptable risk.