Supporting campaign started after a series of fires caused by illegal devices
Fire damage caused by an e-bike charger. Picture: London Fire Brigade
Hammersmith & Fulham Council (H&F) is lending its support to a campaign to ban e-bike chargers due to the fire risk they present.
A new investigation by consumer safety charity Electrical Safety First identified mains chargers designed to charge batteries that could start devastating fires.
The findings come after a recent warning from the London Fire Brigade following a spate of ferocious e-bike fires – including this June’s blaze on the 12th floor of an estate in Shepherds Bush – linked to both DIY conversion kits as well as incompatible chargers.
Nearly 60 listings were found by the charity across Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Wish.com and AliExpress – all of which fell well below the necessary safety standards for sale to UK consumers. The listed products were predominantly advertised as e-bike chargers, whilst others were for multiple use, designed to charge the batteries of e-scooters or hoverboards.
The charging devices, advertised as accessories for e-bikes to power up lithium-ion batteries, all failed to meet the necessary standard for UK plugs, with many appearing to have no fuse.
Plugs without a fuse have no means of cutting out in the event of a fault in the supply lead, leaving the consumer exposed to a serious risk of fire. An incorrect plug is a sign that the charger has not been adequately tested to the necessary safety standards and therefore there is an increased risk of further hidden dangers. Some listings featuring non-UK plugs also came with lithium-ion batteries.
The charity is particularly concerned with the findings of its latest investigation due to the risk associated with substandard charging devices powering lithium-ion batteries. In the event of a fire occurring from the charger, its close proximity to the e-bike battery could cause a ferocious and devastating fire in the home if the battery is then ignited.
Martyn Allen, Technical Director of Electrical Safety First, said: “By the very nature of the batteries these dangerous charging devices are powering, it is a potential disaster waiting to happen.
“The process of charging e-bike batteries must be done with compatible and compliant chargers. Given the frightening nature of lithium-ion battery fires, it is essential the charging equipment doesn’t pose any unnecessary risk to the battery or user.
“The lack of vital regulation needed to ensure online marketplaces are responsible for the safety of goods sold via their platforms is contributing significantly to dangerous products entering people’s homes.”
On contacting the websites investigated, all removed or blocked the listings highlighted to them by Electrical Safety First. One marketplace informed the charity it had subsequently removed hundreds of more listings.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Safety is important to Amazon and we want customers to shop with confidence on our stores. We have removed these products from sale while we investigate.
“When appropriate, we remove a product from the store, reach out to sellers, manufacturers, and government agencies for additional information, or take other actions. If customers have concerns about an item they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact our Customer Service directly so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”
The charity has started a petition which can be signed by people who support its call for a ban.
Cllr Frances Umeh, H&F Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness said, “We’re calling on the Government to ban the sale of these dangerous chargers.
“They pose an increased risk of fire to consumers as well as their neighbours. These products should never have been available for sale to UK shoppers in the first place.”
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Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter
September 21, 2022