Lithium-ion battery bill advances from House to Senate to push for safety standards

Thursday, May 16, 2024
House advances lithium-ion battery bill to Senate
A bill to set standards for the batteries is advancing to the Senate.

NEW YORK CITY -- There's a movement in Washington, D.C. to prevent lithium-ion battery fires as a bill to set standards for the batteries is advancing to the Senate.

One of its biggest supporters is FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.

We've been talking and learning about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries for years, specifically uncertified devices as they can create explosive fires that are not just destructive, but many times deadly.

These intense blazes are also extremely challenging for firefighters to put out.

The House passed a bill to require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a safety standard for rechargeable batteries and require a certification that they are legitimate.

New York Congressman Ritchie Torres helped introduce the legislation last year.

Commissioner Kavanagh has also been on Capitol Hill herself pushing for it. She posted Wednesday night that she's grateful for the bipartisan support.

The next step would be for Senate approval.

Just last week, there was a battery fire on the 67th floor of a high-rise under construction in Long Island City, Queens.

This time it wasn't a bike or a scooter that sparked the fire, but instead power tools.

The commissioner was on Eyewitness News Mornings at 10 last week, talking about just that.

NYC Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh joins the Mornings @ 10 team to talk about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries.

"Certainly, it's the e-bikes that are causing the most damage and are the most dangerous at the moment. There are a lot of them, they are used frequently, and they are not regulated. Think of all the things that can have lithium-ion batteries in them from our phones to cars, to power tools, you know we have been encouraging as well on the hill, we talk to everybody about all consumer devices really needing that basic UL certification to make sure that they are safe and regulated before they are used," she said.

The FDNY says in 2023, 18 New Yorkers died in fires caused by lithium-ion batteries.

They're the third leading cause of fires in the five boroughs.