FDNY commissioner to Amazon: Stop selling unsafe li-ion batteries

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh told the online retailer the city has experienced 14 fire deaths to date caused by lithium-ion batteries


Theodore Parisienne

By Scott R. Axelrod
Staten Island Advance

NEW YORK — New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh is urging online retailer Amazon to stop selling lithium-ion batteries that don’t meet specific safety standards.

In a letter to the company’s general counsel, David Zapolsky, Kavanagh pointed out that NYC Local law 39 — which went into effect Sept. 16, 2023 — prohibits the sale, lease, rental, or distribution of powered micro-mobility devices, like e-bikes and e-scooters, unless the electrical systems and batteries for the devices have been certified by an accredited testing laboratory for compliance with Underwriters Laboratories.

“As the most ubiquitous online retailer in the country, Amazon is in a position to save lives by reducing the number of prohibited devices on the streets of New York,” Kavanagh wrote.

“We are aware that batteries that do not meet UL standard 2272 are available for sale on Amazon — these batteries are directly contributing to an increase in fire incidents and endangering the lives of New Yorkers.”

Kavanagh went on to say that fires caused by lithium-ion batteries have had a devastating effect on New Yorkers.

“We have reached a point of crisis: FDNY has already responded to 101 injuries stemming from micro-mobility device fires in 2023,” Kavanagh wrote. “With 14 deaths to date this year, lithium-ion batteries are now a top cause of fatal fires in New York.”

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