Authorities sound alarm on fire risks posed by e-bikes

Residential communities will be encouraged to build enclosed parking areas for e-bikes, install smart charging devices and ensure that parked e-bikes are looked after.

Fires caused by e-bike batteries have resulted in 32 deaths in Shanghai since 2013, accounting for 10 percent of all fire casualties during the period, the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety said yesterday.

In three noted cases since 2015, at least three people lost their lives in Songjiang, Jiading and Putuo districts respectively, according to the administration. Among these, four died in a fire in an illegally constructed woodshed in a residential complex on Zhongshan Road N., Putuo District, on February 15 last year. The fire was believed to have been caused by an e-bike battery in the shed.

In many cases, fire occurs when e-bike batteries experience electrical fault during charging, according to China’s Ministry of Public Security.

Residents are advised to avoid charging e-bikes and batteries in apartments or homes, and charging in public spaces inside buildings and fire escapes is prohibited. Bikes should be charged outside of residential buildings and where they can be monitored, the ministry said.

In coordination with other authorities, the administration said it will enhance efforts to address e-bike fire safety issues.

Along with improving quality inspections and enforcement against illegal bike modifications, authorities also vow to “fundamentally solve” the problems of residents parking and charging e-bikes at home or inside residential buildings.

Residential communities will be encouraged to build enclosed parking areas for e-bikes, install smart charging devices and ensure that parked e-bikes are looked after.

Governments in some districts have already started to fund residential fire-control programs targeting e-bikes. Jinshan fire authorities say that with government funding, new e-bike parking areas with water hoses and fire-alarms have been built in about 160 residential complexes in the district so far this year.

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