FDNY marks success with new lithium-ion battery law

May 16, 2024

New bill to regulate lithium-ion batteries

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh is celebrating the successful Congressional passage of lithium-ion battery regulation, as reported by the City of New York Fire Department (FDNY).

This legislation, achieved through collaborative advocacy with local, state, and federal partners, is a significant step towards enhancing public safety.

The new legislation, H.R. 1797, known as the “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act,” mandates the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in micro mobility devices, including e-bikes and e-scooters.

This is aimed at mitigating the fire risk associated with these batteries.

Nationwide impact and support

“This bill is the first step in what must be a long-term, nationwide conversation,” said Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.

“Technologies like these are evolving rapidly, and public safety agencies must be part of those conversations. We need to work together, share information and ideas.”

Kavanagh emphasized that the issue extends beyond New York City.

“Municipalities outside of New York have begun to see an uptick in fires caused by lithium-ion batteries,” she said.

“This legislation will make it much more difficult for dangerous batteries to enter our country, and we are glad it has bipartisan support.”

Advocacy and expert discussions

Over the past two years, Fire Commissioner Kavanagh has made multiple trips to Washington, D.C., to advocate for this change, including a recent meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on May 7.

The following day, she participated in the inaugural World Fire Congress, where she joined a panel of global fire department experts to discuss collaboration, data collection, and public education regarding lithium-ion battery dangers.

Kavanagh’s efforts included testifying before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in July 2023.

She highlighted the crisis faced by New York City, where lithium-ion batteries have caused approximately 500 fires and resulted in 24 deaths over the past two years, making them a leading cause of fatal fires in the city.

Senate companion bill

A companion bill in the Senate, S.1008, was introduced in March and referred to the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

This parallel legislative effort underscores the comprehensive approach needed to address the safety concerns associated with lithium-ion batteries.

FSJA comment

The passage of the “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act” represents a critical step forward in enhancing consumer safety and reducing fire risks associated with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Commissioner Laura Kavanagh’s advocacy highlights the importance of collaboration across various levels of government to address emerging technological challenges.

Her engagement with lawmakers and participation in international forums reflect the FDNY’s commitment to public safety and proactive measures.

As the Senate considers the companion bill, the continued bipartisan support will be crucial in ensuring these safety standards are implemented effectively, providing a model for addressing similar issues nationwide.

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