Lithium-ion battery safety course

Local law proposed to require battery certification


Legis. Dominick Thorne (R) recently held a lithium-ion battery safety course at the Patchogue-Medford Library last week, alongside Suffolk County fire safety educators.

Thorne has recently sponsored a bill as part of a bipartisan effort to pass a local law requiring certification for the sale of lithium-ion batteries for electric-assist bicycles and other powered mobility devices. The Suffolk County Legislature proposed the law on March 5; it is expected to pass this month.

The idea behind the law, Thorne said, was that these batteries are being used for more efficient transportation; however, there is very little governmental regulation regarding the safety of them.

“The proactive resolution will provide safety to our residents and protection to our families,” said Thorne.

According to the legislature, if lithium-ion batteries are faultily made or not properly tested, the results can often be explosive, as lithium-ion batteries have been found to be the cause of at least 220 fires in New York City in 2022, and at least 10 deaths and 226 injuries in 2021 and 2022.

The batteries can also release highly toxic gases when they fail, and their excessive heat can cause them to explode. These fires are extremely dangerous because they are self-sustaining and are difficult to contain and extinguish.

“This legislature further determines that it is the responsibility of the County of Suffolk to protect the health and safety of its residents by requiring the sale, lease, or rental of only UL-certified storage batteries for powered bicycles and powered mobility devices to prevent them from potentially catching fire or exploding,” the law reads.

Thorne noted that the legislature also does not advise people to purchase lithium-ion batteries second-hand or online from unknown and potentially unregulated vendors, as it has been determined that some of these battery fires have resulted from second-use lithium-ion batteries that contained used batteries reassembled for use as an e-bike or mobility device battery.

The law will now require certification for the sale, lease, or rental of all lithium-ion storage batteries for electric powered bicycles and other such mobility.

The law does not include powered bicycles, wheelchairs, or other mobility devices designed for use by persons with disabilities, or any vehicle that is capable of being registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. 


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