Storing Mobility scooters, E-bikes and E-scooters safely
In recent times there have been a growing number of residential fires that have been caused by Lithium-ion batteries from either E-scooters, E-bikes or even mobility scooters. In this blog we have partnered with our trusted supplier metroSTOR, to explore what the recommended measures are for safely storing lithium battery personal mobility devices.
Unfortunately, even small Lithium-ion batteries have the potential to violently explode and burn intensely if they suffer physical damage or become overcharged, a phenomenon referred to as 'thermal runaway.' When this happens, the battery can release significant amounts of toxic gases, ranging from 300 to 6000L, even from a modest 1kWh battery commonly found in e-bikes and e-scooters.
In poorly ventilated spaces, this poses a dual danger: the emissions can lead to fatalities through inhalation, and if ignited, a substantial deflagration can occur. Subsequently, the fire may propagate through any flammable materials in the vicinity, such as tires from the mobility device, seats, fenders, carpets, and house furniture, among many others.
The potential consequences of an incident occurring within any indoor environment are unimaginable. While there are relatively straightforward measures to help reduce the risk, such as avoiding overnight charging and installing suitable alarms, the ultimate solution to eliminate the risk is the establishment of secure external charging points.
The London Fire Brigade responded to more than 100 such incidents in the past year, and this trend is rapidly intensifying. The London Fire Brigade strongly advise against storing Lithium-ion powered devices indoors whenever feasible.
For rental properties, landlords are bound by the Fire Safety Order to ensure the safety of their tenants by mitigating fire hazards and upkeeping escape routes. They carry a legal obligation to maintain common areas free of combustible materials and extend this duty to minimising specific risks within tenants' apartments, often by adhering to the relevant NFCC guidelines.
To mitigate fire risks in situations where it's impossible to maintain the recommended 6-meter distance from dwellings due to site limitations, metroSTOR employs a Fire Resistant cladding specification. This specification includes a factory-installed internal fireboard lining system on all unit surfaces and the roof, complemented by intumescent seals at the eaves to enhance fire resistance.
The above video which is owned by the Fire Safety Research Institute provides a great demonstration of how dangerous Lithium ion battery fires can be.
What points should I consider when making provision for safe charging and storage?
How many flats are there in the block and how many have e-bikes/e-scooters already? You might want to survey residents to find out how many would buy one if a safe form of storage was provided. A modular product could allow additional capacity to be added in the future if demand increases.
The facility should be in an accessible location for users but at a safe distance from the building to prevent fire spreading to dwellings. The NFCC guidance recommends 6m but this can be difficult to achieve in many areas due to a lack of space, in which case a fire resistant specification should be used. Placing it within a secure garden area in full view of residents’ flats increases natural surveillance, whereas hiding from public view restricts the attention of potential thieves. Locate reasonably close to a landlord’s electrical supply to keep connection costs reasonable.
The store should comfortably accommodate all sizes of e-scooter or e-bike that are likely to be used without creating spare space that could attract bulky waste or even rough-sleepers. Choosing a product that has at least 30min fire-rating will be particularly important if less than 6m from dwellings and one with some form of fire-suppression will limit damage to other devices in the event of a thermal runaway event.
It will be challenging for mobility scooter users with reduced mobility to access an external storage facility, but this must be balanced with the need to maintain the safety of all residents. It must be possible for the store to be reached safely by all users, and this should be as close to the building entrance as possible without compromising fire safety guidelines and provided with well-lit access paths, compliant ramps, and handrails on any changes of level.
The challenge can be mitigated by providing automated access doors and increasing the width of the store to give space for users to transfer from wheelchair to scooter.
Many of the devices will be highly valuable, so specifying a unit that has been tested to a relevant security standard will add more layers of protection. This could include Sold Secure Cycle Gold or Cabinet Silver for example as applying to both the external envelope and secure locking points for users to add their own locks.
Trying to do this on the cheap should not be an option given the risk to life and value of property involved. But neither should the landlord be bearing the full brunt; it should be clearly understood that if someone chooses to purchase a personal mobility device then they will be expected to pay a rental for the storage and charging as they would with a garage or parking bay for their car.
Providing storage for every user may be unrealistic, but creating a basic level of provision will reduce the risk for landlords. It also provides a framework to manage who has a scooter, where they store it, and how they pay for this storage as well as the electricity used.
If you would like further information about external storage solutions or would like to speak to one of our expert consultants then please contact us below and one of our experts will get back to you as soon as possible.
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