AUTUMN 2023 WHERE THERES A WHEEL theres a way to minimise the fire risk of personal light electric vehicles (PLEVs) E-bikes and e-scooters are becoming increasingly popular, and most are powered by lithium-ion batteries that can be charged at home. On occasion, batteries can fail catastrophically and explode and/or lead to a rapidly developing fire. In recent months, there have been several high-profile blazes involving e-scooters and e-bikes in the UK, so it is important that they are charged and stored correctly. The incorrect disposal of lithium-ion batteries in general household and recycling waste can also lead to significant fires, so prevention messaging is vital to protect operational staff and fire and rescue service personnel. The following can be helpful to businesses dealing in e-scooters or e-bikes to communicate the dangers to the public and minimise the risk of fire: Buying Only buy e-bikes, e-scooters, e-bike conversion kits, chargers and batteries from reputable retailers, as items that dont meet British or European standards pose a huge fire risk. Take particular care if buying from online auction or fulfilment platforms and, if you are buying separate components, check that they are compatible. Register your product with the manufacturer to validate any warranty (batteries are usually included in this), as this makes it easier to contact you in the event of safety or recall information. You can check whether products are subject to a recall by going on the Electrical Safety First or Gov.uk websites. Battery charging Exercise caution when charging batteries and follow the manufacturers instructions. Do not modify or tamper with the battery, and take care not to expose it to damage or extremes of temperature. Only ever use the correct charger for your battery and buy replacements from reputable sellers Only ever use the correct charger for your battery and buy replacements from reputable sellers. Batteries can become warm during use and, for heat to dissipate properly, they should be charged on hard, flat surfaces. Let them cool before attempting to recharge. Never leave a battery unattended or charge it while you are sleeping, and unplug your charger immediately you have finished charging. Have smoke alarms fitted in a property where you are charging devices. Every home should have at least one on each level of the property. Prepare an escape plan in case of a fire. If one does start, dial 999 immediately instead of trying to tackle the blaze yourself. Storage Do not store or charge e-bikes and e-scooters in escape routes or in communal areas of multi-occupied buildings, as this can affect peoples ability to get out in the event of a fire. Responsible Persons should consider the risks posed by e-bikes and e-scooters when they are charged or left in common areas, and offer advice to residents on the safe use, storage and charging of these products. PLEV pointers There are an estimated 750,000 private e-scooters in the UK and the opportunity for businesses to venture into this market is growing but what are the rules surrounding e-scooters? They must be manufactured to the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, with a Declaration of Conformity and a technical file to support this. The labelling must also show: Manufacturers name and address Designation of machinery (eg. PLEV personal light electric vehicle) Model series or type and serial number Year of construction Use with only model designation battery Maximum load in kg, at least 10mm in height and visible when in use UKCA mark BSEN17128 (if applicable) Information and instructions for use must be provided in English, and must include: Manufacturers name and address Declaration of Conformity Diagrams and instructions for assembly, use, maintenance, repair and correct functioning Warnings regarding how the PLEV must not be used Maximum load, in kg Protective measures to be taken by the user, including the use of personal protective equipment Batteries must meet appropriate standards, and information on safe charging should be provided. Chargers must comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 and be labelled in accordance with these. Batteries and chargers must be compatible, to meet safety requirements and ensure there is not a fire risk. The mains plug must also comply with BS1363 and contain a fuse that meets the BS1362 standard. For more information, contact your local Trading Standards service. Credits: Suzanne Allen and Amanda Ross, Trading Standards officers E-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries should be kept in a cool place. If they are not going to be used for extended periods of time, follow the manufacturers instructions for storage and maintenance of lithium-ion batteries. Damage and disposal Batteries can be damaged if they are dropped or if the e-bike or e-scooter is involved in a crash. This can lead to them overheating and catching fire without warning. Check your battery regularly and, if you suspect it is damaged, replace it. Do not continue to use or charge it. If you need to dispose of a damaged or end-of-life battery, do not put it in your household waste or normal recycling. When punctured or crushed, these batteries can cause fires in bin lorries, recycling and waste centres. Your e-bike or e-scooter manufacturer may offer a recycling service, or check with your local authority about battery recycling in your area. Credit: Daniel Hodgkins, watch commander, West Midlands Fire Service Image: iStock.com / azatvaleev Anonymous Hotline For further information, please contact your local Trading Standards Service For up-to-date news stories and information, follow us on 0300 303 2636 Is your sector being undermined by unscrupulous traders operating outside the law? Report them via Trading Standards Anonymous Hotline or online and help level the playing field for honest businesses.