NEW YORK - On Randalls Island Wednesday, FDNY officials played a video of an e-bike catching fire and then exploding inside a home as part of a just-launched campaign on the dangers of lithium-ion batteries, a threat that officials say is increasing daily.
"It has been a very, very long time, decades, if not longer, since a new technology has come out of nowhere and become the leading cause of fire deaths in any city," said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.
Kavanagh announced the "Take Charge" campaign from the Fire Training Academy, joined by federal partners who say the risk to lives from fires caused by batteries overheating is at crisis numbers nationally.
"Our priority one is to continue to conduct necessary research to determine the risk both to firefighters and the public and how we will respond to suppress the fires that do occur," said Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell PhD., a U.S. Fire Administrator.
The FDNY says this year, there have been 239 fires resulting in 124 injuries and 17 deaths caused by lithium-ion batteries.
That includes 3 members of the same family in Brooklyn, who lost their lives on Sunday morning in Crown Heights. Investigators say lithium-ion batteries from an e-bike caused the blaze.
Officials even set an e-bike on fire Wednesday morning during a demonstration for further emphasis.
This campaign gets underway as the holiday shopping season is about to start and officials expect many vehicles and devices that use lithium-ion batteries will be popular gifts this holiday season.
"It's real important that consumers look for products that have UL certification, which means the batteries have been tested to those standards and are less likely to create a fire hazard," Robert Kaye, Director of Compliance and Field Ops at the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.