The scene of an e-bike fire in a Shepherd' Bush high-rise from 2022 (Picture: London Fire Brigade)

Trading Standards issues safety warning over non-compliant e-scooter and e-bike fire risks 

The UK’s trading standards organisation has issued a warning about the risk of fires associated with non-compliant e-scooters and e-bikes

In a statement released on Thursday (9th February), the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warned consumers and businesses of the potential fire risks posed by faulty lithium-ion batteries in micromobility vehicles. 

Fire safety in micromobility has been an increasingly publicised topic, following a number of high profile incidents linked to faulty e-scooter and e-bike batteries. 

According to Freedom of Information data obtained by insurer Zurich and released last December, the number of fires caused by micromobility machines increased by 149% in 2021, when compared with 2020. 

In response to these fire incidents, the CTSI is urging businesses importing and selling micromobility products to ensure the vehicles fully comply with product safety laws. 

Consumers have also been warned to only purchase devices from reputable retailers and to check they display a valid UKCA or CE mark.

Christine Heemskerk, CTSI lead officer for product safety, said: “Don’t buy online unless you’re really certain where a product is coming from. You also need to be very sure that you’re using the right charger for the right battery. There should be a charger supplied with the device you’ve purchased.” 

According to the CTSI, many of the fires have been attributed to aftermarket e-bike conversion kits. 

London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner for fire safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “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 marketplaces and batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.

“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.”

Read more: Voi calls on Government to set clear date for e-scooter legalisation 

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said: “All privately owned e-scooters remain illegal in public places and on the road in London, but they are not illegal to purchase. It is vital that customers understand the potential consequences of riding e-scooters and those who do purchase the vehicles must be clear on how to charge them and their batteries safely. E-bike owners must also be aware of the fire safety risks which come with using converted e-bikes from unverified suppliers. 

“The Mayor and I are determined to build a safer London for all. That is why I recently wrote to retailers with the Met Police imploring them to display information prominently in store and online to make customers aware that private e-scooters are illegal on public roads and to make it clear to customers that do purchase them how to charge vehicles and batteries safely.”

 CTSI recommendations to the public: 

  • Only purchase e-bikes, e-scooters, chargers and batteries from reputable retailers.
  • Never buy counterfeit batteries or chargers, and ensure that any device you use displays a valid UKCA or CE mark.
  • Check that separate components, such as batteries and chargers, are compatible with one another.
  • Register your product with the manufacturer to validate any warranties on components including batteries. Registering makes it easier for manufacturers to contact you in the event of safety or recall information.
  • Check any products you have bought are not subject to a product recall. You can do this by checking Electrical Safety First’s website or the Government website.

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