FPA gives backing for proposed Li-ion battery safety bill

The Fire Protection Association has joined other leading fire safety bodies in extending its support for the Safety of Electric-Powered Micromobility Vehicles and Lithium-ion Batteries Bill

Put together by Electrical Safety First (ESF), a prominent charity in the sector, the campaign aims to introduce better measures regarding safety assurance, responsible disposal, and comprehensive fire safety. In this instance, ‘electric-powered micromobility’ refers to e-scooters or e-bikes that are powered by secondary lithium-ion batteries or rechargeable batteries.

If successful, the proposed bill will see significant changes in the way that such vehicles are regulated in the UK.

Statistics around the growing number of e-scooter and e-bike fires in England have been a growing concern for some time, with the likes of the National Fire Chiefs Council, local fire and rescue services, insurance companies, and others issuing warnings about the fire risks associated with the unregulated and unsafe use of secondary lithium-ion battery chargers. As ESF states, fires caused by lithium-ion batteries in e-scooters and e-bikes have “multiplied fourfold since 2020”, including 190 injuries and eight lives lost. Ultimately, the ESF hopes that the bill will help to target the “alarming rise in deaths and injuries from fires and explosions caused by e-scooter and e-bike batteries”.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of ESF, said: “Time is of the essence. The number of deaths is rising and we are determined to bring about real change to help prevent the wholly avoidable  loss of life we are seeing from these devices. We must find the political will to tackle this issue head on and urgently. Our Bill is ready to go and offers real, life-saving solutions, first outlined in our report Battery Breakdown.

Our Bill will protect people from the substandard e-bike and e-scooter batteries currently wreaking havoc in our homes and destroying lives. We are offering solutions to the escalating problems to both Government and MPs. To prevent further loss of life and unnecessary, heartache, we urge parliamentarians to work with us to  adopt this Bill and ultimately to save lives.”   

If passed into law, the bill will see that no electric-powered micromobility vehicle or secondary lithium-ion battery used to power such vehicles can be placed on the UK market unless they have been assessed by a government-approved third-party body; the manufacturer has drawn up the technical documentation and declaration of conformity; and the devices bear the CE or UKCA mark to demonstrate conformity with designated or harmonised standards. A list of conformity assessment bodies (CABs) will need to be published by the Secretary of State, which will in turn allow those who are authorised to issue a ‘certificate of conformity’ to the manufacturer. The manufacturer will need to display a CE or UKCA mark on the product before placing it on the UK market.

The bill requires the Secretary of State to make regulations regarding the safe disposal of lithium batteries, including mandating manufacturers to include prominent warnings about the improper disposal of lithium batteries on their products and when they are sold. The bill also highlights better regulations introduced around the safety standards for micromobility vehicle conversion kits and their associated components.

Sharing the FPA’s support for the proposed bill, Technical Director, George Edwardes said: "We are happy to give our support to this bill as an important step towards safeguarding against the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires in electric-powered micromobility vehicles.

The bill highlights the urgency for better regulation of these consumer-led devices that contain Li-ion batteries, including secondary Li-ion batteries, and we call on the government to provide better assurances from manufacturers about their safe use, requirements for CE or UKCA marks on all imported products, and clearer warnings for consumers against unsafe disposal."

The FPA has already published some guidance in this area with its RC59 and RE2 guides:

You can read the proposed bill in full here.