How Your Association Clients Can Reduce Fire Risks Caused By Mobility Devices

In November 2022, a lithium-ion battery that was charging caused a fire in a Manhattan high-rise building, injuring nearly 40 people. The fire was one of almost 200 caused by such batteries in New York City last year, resulting in 10 deaths and more than 200 injuries.

Along with other fires across the country, it highlights the risk of e-bikes, e-scooters, and wheelchairs powered by lithium-ion batteries.

According to Consumer Reports, lithium-ion batteries that are poorly made, overused, or charged too long can cause fires. Daniel E. Flynn, chief fire marshal at the Bureau of Fire Investigation in New York City’s fire department, told the organization that battery packs that fail can shoot the cells as far as 60 feet, potentially sparking multiple fires.

A battery that has caught fire can reignite again, too, hours or days later. That’s why firefighters in Ann Arbor, Mich., had to store a wheelchair battery that caused a fire in protective polymer in a special bucket. The unit where the fire occurred reportedly sustained $200,000 in damages, and two residents had to be rescued.

“We have a lot of high- and mid-rise clients with underground parking structures, and I’m concerned this can be an issue,” says Sandra Gottlieb, a founding partner of California community association law firm SwedelsonGottlieb.

Steven Sladkus, a partner with the New York law firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas, LLP, which represents hundreds of co-ops and condo associations, has already had clients reach out.

“Lots of people here have e-bikes, lots of people have electronic scooters,” he says. “I’m hearing clients concerned that they may combust.”

Your clients should be thinking now about how they can mitigate these risks in their communities.

In a new article, our experts offer advice on what your association clients can and should do to reduce the risks of fire associated with mobility devices in their communities.

Read the full article here: Get Ahead of the Curve: Mobility Devices Pose Fire Risk

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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