Electric bikes and e-scooters - the fastest growing fire risk in London

As more people are buying and using electric bikes and e-scooters to get around, the London Fire Brigade has seen a growing number of fires caused by lithium batteries.

So far in 2023 there has been a 60% increase – meaning crews have been called to fires caused by electric bikes or scooters every two days on average. To try and tackle this, they have launched their #ChargeSafe campaign.

There is a real risk with the scooters or bikes having damaged or faulty batteries which could catch light, particularly when charging.

If you own a e-scooter or e-bike, we want you to be aware of the risk so as not to endanger yourself or others. There was an incident in December 2022 at a tower block in Salford where the fire was caused by an e-bike battery that had been charging in the bedroom of the property.

What do you need to do?

Most of the dangers lie in charging. If you own an e-bike or e-scooter please make sure you:

  • Never charge electric bikes or scooters while you’re sleeping or not at home
  • Unplug the charger once it’s finished charging
  • Don’t cover the charger as this could lead to it overheating or setting on fire

There are also safety issues around kits you can buy online that can convert a standard bike to an e-bike. These kits are lithium-ion battery packs and many do not meet UK safety regulation and present an increased fire risk. Make sure:

  • The battery and charger meet UK safety standards and that you always use the correct charger
  • To never tamper with the battery and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • That you are wary of DIY kits that you can get online that convert a standard bike to an e-bike

You should also never keep an electric bike or scooter in a fire escape route. Not only must fire escapes never be blocked by any item electric bikes and scooters cause an added danger as should the battery start to battery it will likely explode and emit large volumes of toxic fumes.

It is important that if you witness an electric bike or scooter battery start to catch light that you evacuate your property immediately and call the fire brigade. Please do not try to tackle the fire or move the bike or scooter.

Image from Salix Homes.