FDNY shuts down illegal lithium-ion battery operation in Queens

February 22, 2024

FDNY discovers illegal battery manufacturing in Queens

The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) has announced the recent shutdown of an unauthorized lithium-ion battery manufacturing operation in Rego Park, Queens.

The operation was discovered at Wilson’s Electric Scooters and Sales located along Queens Boulevard.

The owner, Wilson Chen, expressed his intentions behind the operation, stating: “Nobody teach me. They don’t do nothing but take money, give me ticket.

“We want to make good quality battery for sale, so we need the sample to apply for UL license.”

FDNY recovers illegal battery packs and e-scooters

During the operation, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh reported that the department’s Lithium-Ion Task Force recovered approximately 60 battery packs, hundreds of individual lithium-ion cells, 25 e-scooters, and 25 combination electric and gas mopeds.

Kavanagh highlighted that the business was assembling battery packs from individual cells and replacing old ones, which is against the fire code.

This practice led to the creation of what the FDNY refers to as “Frankenstein batteries.”

The dangers of unregulated lithium-ion batteries

Commissioner Kavanagh emphasized the extreme dangers posed by unregulated, tampered with, and non-certified batteries.

“They kill people, they have killed people, and they will kill more people if businesses continue to operate in this manner,” she said.

The department is advocating for national legislation regarding lithium-ion battery safety standards to prevent further tragedies.

Justin Yap, a customer living close to the shop, noted the presence of bikes often blocking the sidewalk but acknowledged the operation’s closure as a positive step towards neighborhood safety.

Additionally, the FDNY linked a recent fire in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to a lithium-ion battery, underscoring the risks associated with uncertified and improperly manufactured batteries.

The FDNY hopes this operation serves as a warning to other businesses engaging in similar illegal activities.

“The message to other businesses that are operating like this will be that we will find you and we will shut you down and that what you’re doing is dangerous,” Kavanagh stated.

The department reported that lithium-ion batteries were the cause of 267 fires, 150 injuries, and 18 deaths in the city in 2023.

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