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NBDA and HPS Attend FDNY Fire Symposium - Update Retailers on E-Bike Regulation and Safety

Published September 15, 2022

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Irvine, CA (September 15, 2022) – FDNY has experienced a rapid increase in the frequency of fires involving e-bikes, e-scooters, and other battery-powered micro mobility devices. In partnership with the FDNY Foundation, UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute, and the National Fire Protection Association, FDNY hosted a Symposium last week to review the emerging threat of lithium-ion battery fires and the challenges posed in fighting fires involving this technology. Over 300 attendees from across North America were in attendance, including National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) President Heather Mason and Human Powered Solutions (HPS) Chief Technology Officer Mike Fritz. 

Earlier this year, NBDA and HPS teamed up to educate retailers and the industry at large about the growing safety problem that has been created by the surge in consumer purchases of electric bicycles and scooters that utilize lithium-ion batteries as the power source for electric propulsion systems. Both organizations believe that there is an immediate need for not only independent testing, but for an information campaign to retailers, suppliers, and the consuming public to make them aware of safe charging and storage protocols for lithium-ion batteries. 

NBDA and HPS were the only representatives from the micro mobility industry in attendance at this important gathering. Attendance at this event was critical to bring the industry voice to the conversation regarding the importance of e-mobility continued growth and future strategy and partnership regarding code enforcement. Both organizations also hoped to gather additional information on safe storage and handling to bring back to retailers. 

NDBA President Heather Mason was invited to join a panel discussion focused on next steps forward. The esteemed panel included Julian Bazel, FDNY Director of Code Enforcement, Rob Slone, Chief Scientist at UL, Judy Jeevarajan, PHD, VP and Executive Director of UL, and Christian Dubay, VP and Chief Engineer of NFPA. 

Mason advised the audience on the benefits of e-bikes, the importance to retailers, riders, mobility, and climate at large, and then further dove into the activities the industry has undertaken to educate retailers and consumers on associated risks. In summary, she stressed the importance of communication between retailers, local fire departments and all who store, charge, and work on electrical systems, in addition to the continued support of the NBDA, HPS, and the industry at large to work in partnership with all in attendance to mitigate future risk. 

The 2-day event included several informational sessions, including live demonstrations of a lithium-ion battery in thermal runaway. The experience left an impression of the very real dangers presented by lithium-ion batteries used in micro mobility applications. Lithium-ion battery fires truly present life-or-death scenarios, and the strategies and methods developed by FDNY are saving the lives of fire fighters as well as the civilians they are sworn to protect. 

“Chief Loftus consistently made the point that lithium-ion batteries have ‘changed the game’ in terms of fighting fires. Yesterday’s tactics are in many respects obsolete when fighting a battery fire. Retailers and riders alike must realize that a lithium-ion battery fire, and its aftermath, is different and significantly more dangerous than the fires that we have come to know and understand. We must be proactive to minimize the chance of fire,” stated NBDA President Heather Mason. 

Earlier this year the NBDA welcomed George Healy, Deputy Chief of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), to a webinar where he referenced the growing number of fires and sadly, deaths attributed to unsafe practices associated with charging e-bike and e-scooter lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, e-mobility products are the third leading cause of fire currently in NYC. Mason and Fritz noted that most, if not all, the battery fires that were referenced as case studies during the symposium were caused by relatively low-cost scooters and e-bikes that seem to be the conveyance of choice for the delivery messengers that operate in the city. They did not see any instances of fires involving e-bikes that are typically sold through independent bicycle dealers, usually at significantly higher prices. 

“I was extremely impressed by the professionalism and expertise displayed by all the presenters featured on the symposium agenda. Clearly, FDNY, in cooperation with colleagues at Underwriters Laboratories and other municipal fire departments, have devoted considerable time, effort, and real-world experience to developing an in-depth understanding of the very real dangers presented by lithium-ion batteries used in micro mobility applications. E-bikes with quality battery packs may cost a bit more, but minimizing the chances of catastrophic battery fires, and the associated loss of life and property, is well worth the extra expense,” added Mike Fritz. 

As a follow up, the NBDA and HPS are teaming up to offer a fall Roundtable Series to retailers around e-bikes and retailer best practices. The 4 event series kicks off October 7th, with Scott Chapin of Marsh & McLennan Agency leading a discussion on Insurance Considerations. On November 4th, Mike Fritz will update retailers on the Safe Storage and Handling of Lithium-ion Batteries based on feedback from the symposium. You can see the complete series list on the NBDA website. 

In addition to the webinars, the NBDA has made available to their members documents that were prepared by HPS including information on safe storage and charging in store and consumer facing materials on safety. These are available for NBDA members on the NBDA Member Resources area of the NBDA website. 

For those looking for the recordings of the 4-part webinar series the NBDA hosted earlier this year, the recordings are available on the NBDA YouTube channel. 


The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) is the bicycle industry retailer association formed in 1946, representing and empowering specialty bicycle dealers in the United States through education, communications, research, advocacy, member discount programs, and promotional opportunities. 


The Human Powered Solutions Consultancy possesses a unique skill set that includes pedal only, electric assist, electric component, connectivity and communication product and system design, manufacturing, and management. In addition, they have extensive industry and consumer research experience and data and insights on retail dealers.

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