Electric vehicles: what to look out for to avoid a fire

In December 2022, there was a fire in a high-rise block in Salford. The cause was the battery in an e-bike that had been charging in a bedroom.
The flat was gutted and many of the residents evacuated, but luckily no one was hurt.

With the increase in e-bikes and e-scooters being used, we wanted to give you some more information and guidance to help prevent a similar incident.
Electric vehicles are powered most commonly by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. According to Bedfordshire Fire Service, these batteries were first used in vehicles just twenty years ago, meaning there’s far less data and understanding around them than petrol and diesel, which have been in use in vehicles for well over 100 years.

The service says while overall electric vehicles are very safe, the main danger is when a battery is damaged. And while fires are rare, when they happen they can be extremely dangerous – that’s because over 100 organic chemicals are generated, including incredibly toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide – both of which are fatal to humans.

Here’s some guidance from Bedfordshire Fire Service on buying, looking after and charging e-scooters and e-bikes:

  • Buy from a reputable retailer – if the price is too good to be true it probably is!
  • Refer to the manufacturers guidance on charging and storing
  • Always charge during the day when you are at home
  • Always unplug after use
  • Register electrical items at www.registermyappliance.org.uk/
  • Avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures
  • Protect batteries against being damaged – that’s crushed, punctured or immersed in water
  • Do not over charge your product – once your item is fully charged, disconnect it and turn the charger off.