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FDNY Chief Fire Marshal urges congress to act on Lithium-Ion batteries

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New York City’s Chief Fire Marshal, Daniel Flynn, addressed Congress on Thursday, stressing the necessity for legislative action mandating the implementation of safety standards for lithium-ion batteries. Citing alarming statistics, Flynn highlighted that in 2023 alone, the city witnessed 268 fires stemming from these batteries, resulting in the loss of 18 lives and injuring 150 others.

During his testimony before a panel of House lawmakers, Flynn emphasized the formidable challenge lithium-ion battery fires pose to firefighters, requiring substantial water volumes for suppression and having the potential to reignite spontaneously.

Despite Mayor Eric Adams signing several bills into law aimed at mitigating such incidents, fire department officials advocate for federal intervention, asserting that local regulations fall short in addressing devices entering the city from surrounding areas.

In response to these concerns, the New York City Fire Department is urging Congress to pass legislation sponsored by Bronx Representative Ritchie Torres. This legislation would compel the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish safety standards for lithium-ion batteries utilized in e-bikes and scooters. Support for this bill transcends party lines, with both New York Democrats and Nassau County Republican Representative Anthony D’Esposito co-sponsoring the initiative.

D’Esposito, who presided over Thursday’s hearing, underscored the life-saving potential of such legislation, framing the issue as a matter of national security. Similarly, Torres characterized New York City as the epicenter of the lithium-ion fire safety crisis in the United States, emphasizing the urgency for action.

While Torres’s bill has garnered unanimous support in a different House committee, its advancement to the House floor awaits further action. Expressing cautious optimism, Torres anticipates progress within the chamber this year. However, stakeholders emphasize that additional measures are necessary even if the bill becomes law.

Chief Fire Marshal Flynn stressed the need for increased resources to bolster the FDNY’s inspection capabilities, currently strained by existing demands. Additionally, Representative Dan Goldman, representing Manhattan and Brooklyn, suggested a role for delivery companies in ensuring their e-bike operators adhere to safety standards, thereby contributing to fire prevention efforts.

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