Electric bicycles and electric scooters are more popular than ever. With an increased use of e-bikes and e-scooters, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is concerned about the danger of fires that could be caused by e-bikes and e-scooters involving lithium-ion batteries.
When lithium-ion batteries are damaged, they can overheat, catch on fire, and even lead to explosions. When fires occur, they burn very hot and can be difficult for our Firefighters to extinguish.
It is important when charging e-bikes and e-scooters that it is done safely to avoid the risk of a fire starting. It’s not just about charging, it’s where you buy the e-bike / e-scooter from, where you store it, and what you do if there’s any damage or you need to dispose of it.
Electrical Safety First videos
Why do the batteries explode?
How to use e-bikes/e-scooters safely
What you can do
Please follow these tips, to avoid the risk of a fire…
Buy e-bikes, e-scooters and chargers and batteries from reputable retailers.
Many fires involve counterfeit electrical goods. Items which don’t meet British or European standards pose a huge fire risk and while genuine chargers (or battery packs) may cost more, it’s not worth putting your life at risk and potentially destroying your home by buying a fake charger to save a few pounds.
If buying an e-bike conversion kit, purchase from a reputable seller and check that it complies with British or European standards. Take particular care if buying from online auction or fulfilment platforms. Also be aware that if buying separate components, you should check that they are compatible.
Register your product with the manufacturer to validate any warranties – batteries are usually included in warranties. Registering makes it easier for manufacturers to contact you in the event of safety or recall information.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging and always unplug your charger when it’s finished charging.
Ensure you have working smoke alarms. If you charge or store your e-bike / e-scooter in a garage or kitchen ensure you install detection, we recommend heat alarms rather smoke detectors for these areas.
Charge batteries whilst you are awake and alert so if a fire should occur you can respond quickly. Don’t leave batteries to charge while you are asleep or away from the home.
Always use the manufacturer approved charger for the product, and if you spot any signs of wear and tear or damage buy an official replacement charger for your product from a reputable seller.
Do not cover chargers or battery packs when charging as this could lead to overheating or even a fire.
Do not charge batteries or store your e-bike / e-scooter near combustible or flammable materials.
Do not overcharge your battery – check the manufacturer’s instructions for charge times.
Do not overload socket outlets or use inappropriate extension leads (use un-coiled extensions and ensure the lead is suitably rated for what you are plugging in to it).
Never store or charge e-bikes / e-scooters on escape routes or in communal areas of a multi occupied building. If there’s a fire, it can affect people’s ability to escape.
Responsible Persons should consider the risks posed by e-bikes / e-scooters where they are charged or left in common areas such as means of escape, bike stores and mobility scooter charging rooms. They may wish to offer advice to residents on the safe use, storage and charging of these products.
Store e-bikes / e-scooters and their batteries in a cool place. Avoid storing them in excessively hot or cold areas.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the storage and maintenance of lithium-ion batteries if they are not going to be used for extended periods of time.
Damage and disposal
Batteries can be damaged by dropping them or crashing e-bikes / e-scooters.
Where the battery is damaged, it can overheat and catch fire without warning. Check your battery regularly for any signs of damage and if you suspect it is damaged it should be replaced and should not be used or charged.
If you need to dispose of a damaged or end of life battery, don’t dispose of it in your household waste or normal recycling. These batteries, when punctured or crushed can cause fires in bin lorries, recycling, and waste centres.
If there is a fire
If your e-bike / e-scooter is involved in a fire:
Leave the building immediately
Don’t try and fight the fire
Electrical Safety First Battery Breakdown report
This Electrical Safety First Battery Breakdown report, released in July 2023, has more information on how the fires start, and what to do about them. Download it by clicking on the thumbnail image.