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'We will shut you down.' FDNY issues vacate orders to 2 e-bike businesses

Published June 30, 2023

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — The New York Fire Department issued vacate orders for two e-bike businesses in the city this week as the department steps up inspections following a rash of fatal fires triggered by lithium-ion batteries.

As of Thursday afternoon FDNY had made 38 inspections since last week of shops and other locations thought to be storing or charging batteries in unsafe ways. The department is encouraging citizens to report unsafe operations and in many cases is re-visiting locations that were previously inspected and cited for violations.

This week the department issued vacate orders for an operation at 91 Canal Street, in Brooklyn, and 5709 5th Avenue, in Chinatown. The department also issued multiple criminal and departmental summonses to the operators of each business. The department said the Canal Street businesses apparently acted as a charging station for customers.

Chief Laura Kavenagh said the Canal Street location had over 100 unsafe batteries; some of them caught fire as fire officials removed them from the building and put them in storage barrels outside. She said the building — which has now been completely vacated — had residents living above the store. “This location was essentially a ticking time bomb,” she said at a news conference.

She later issued a promise to city business operators: “If you are operating a business that is anyway improperly charging, storing or tampering with lithium-ion batteries, we will find you, we will fine you and we will shut you down.”

At the business on 5th Avenue, inspectors said they found an excessive number of batteries, some with illegal modifications. The business also had gas-powered mopeds with fuel inside.

Kavenagh said the department in many cases is finding safety violations even after the operators were previously cited. In some cases, she said, the operators appeared to be making efforts to hide the unsafe batteries and battery chargers from inspectors or other visitors.

FDNY photo from 5th Avenue inspection.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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