London Fire Brigade has again issued a warning about e-bike safety following a fire on Lambert Road in Brixton Hill on Tuesday. A flat on the second floor of a terraced house was damaged. Two people escaped before firefighters arrived and were unharmed.
Fire safety is an increasingly hot topic when it comes to e-bikes. Earlier this week, Caledonian Sleeper, the overnight rail service between London and Scotland, cited the risk of fire when banning e-bikes from its trains.
That ban appears to have been imposed – or at least brought to wider attention – after e-scooters were recently banned from public transport in London and Newcastle due to fears batteries could catch fire and emit toxic smoke.
When making their decisions, both Transport for London (TfL) and Nexus, which runs the Tyne and Wear Metro and Shields Ferry, cited London Fire Brigade safety warnings.
Unlike Caledonian Sleeper, the London and Newcastle bans do not however extend to e-bikes.
Explaining the distinction, TfL says: “E-bikes are generally subject to better manufacturing standards and the batteries are usually positioned in a place where they are less likely to be damaged, and so are less of a fire risk.”
Echoing previous warnings in the wake of the Brixton Hill blaze, London Fire Brigade said e-bike owners should avoid using incorrect chargers or replacement batteries not sourced from reputable sellers.
A spokesperson said: "Electric bikes and scooters are often stored and charged in escape routes in homes or communal areas so when a fire does occur, escape routes are blocked which immediately makes an already serious situation much more frightening for those involved so please do be mindful of where you're storing them.
"Many of the fires we are seeing involve batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.
“We know that lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to failure if incorrect chargers are used, so it’s important to always use the correct charger for the product and buy an official one from a reputable seller.
“Batteries can also pose a risk if they have been damaged, so try to ensure they are not getting knocked around while in use or while being carried as spares as this can increase the chance of damage to cells. You should also not expose them to extremes of temperature.
“You should always make sure you unplug your charger once it’s finished charging. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when charging and we would advise not to leave it unattended or while people are asleep.”