E-bike batteries blamed for 22 NYC fires, 2 deaths this year

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. come at (something) / kʌm æt / (phrasal v.) – to deal with a problem or situation in a particular way

    Let’s come at this problem with a better solution.

  2. regulation / ˌrɛg yəˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – an official rule that helps authorities control an activity or process

    Students must follow school regulations.

  3. malfunction / mælˈfʌŋk ʃən / (v.) – to fail to work correctly

    We can’t recover the file because the software is malfunctioning.

  4. egress / ˈi grɛs / (n.) – the act of exiting a place

    All buildings should have a fire escape to ensure safe egress during an emergency.

  5. first responder / fɜrst rɪˈspɒn dər / (n.) – a person whose job is to be one of the first persons to arrive in case of an emergency

    Let’s clear the accident area to give way to the first responders.


Read the text below.

Lithiumion batteries used to power electric bicycles and scooters have already sparked 22 fires that caused 36 injuries and two deaths in New York City this year, four times the number of fires linked to the batteries by February last year, officials said.

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is “coming at this problem from every single angle,” including working with the City Council and the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission on additional regulations for the batteries and educating the public on their proper use and storage.

“These are incredibly dangerous devices, and we must make sure that members of the community are handling them properly and using them safely,” Kavanagh said at a briefing on public safety.

Many of the fires blamed on the batteries have been caused by malfunctioning devices left to charge overnight and placed in a hallway or near a door where they can trap people inside a burning apartment.

Three children and an adult were injured last month when a charging battery started a fire in their upper Manhattan apartment at 1:30 a.m., officials said.

Fire Department Chief of Operations John Esposito said after the Feb. 5 blaze that when the battery overheated and sparked a fire, “it blocked the egress out of the apartment, trapping the family.”

Kavanagh said the e-bike batteries “present often an immediate inability to exit one’s room or one’s apartment or one’s home. So it’s really critical that we work with all our partners up here in government around enforcement, around education, around combating the hazards that these present to citizens and first responders.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • In your opinion, how much responsibility do battery manufacturers have over the incidents? Discuss.
  • How do you think e-bike manufacturers can help their customers use their products safely (ex. by doing a product demo)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Why do you think more and more people are using electric vehicles? Discuss.
  • After reading this news, do you think people should still be encouraged to use e-bikes and scooters? Why or why not? Discuss.