Avon’s Fire Authority chief has called electric scooters a “fire hazard” following a warehouse fire involving hundreds of Voi vehicles.
In a damning statement at a council meeting, authority chair and Bristol councilor Brenda Massey said there was growing evidence that scooters posed a ‘danger’ and said criticized Voi, the company running the regional trial with the West of England Combined Authority (Weca).
Cllr Massey said firefighters had “considerable difficulty” putting out e-scooter fires because the electric battery was sealed and the only way was to completely submerge them in water, contaminating the two-wheelers and made them difficult to dispose of safely.
Read more: Warehouse fire that damaged hundreds of Voi electric scooters has ‘accidental’ cause
Voi said safety is its top priority and it works closely with fully licensed specialist partners to recycle and safely dispose of damaged vehicles and batteries.
He said he had strict measures in place to ensure the batteries were handled and stored safely and that in the “rare event” of an incident, the company acted quickly to support authorities, including the firefighters.
The highly publicized position of Southmead ward Labor Cllr Massey adds serious weight to the ongoing debate over electric scooters, which are currently illegal on roads outside of official testing areas.
A review by Transport for London (TfL) found that faulty lithium batteries could power up vehicles and they are now banned on public transport in the capital.
In Bristol, a power outage sparked a fire at a warehouse in Brislington that damaged more than 200 Voi electric scooters and 275 other batteries on New Year’s Day.
Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS) spent more than four hours at the scene in Dixon Road to ensure the flames did not re-ignite, which a spokesperson said was common in fires caused by lithium batteries.
Last month, crews were called out smoking a long rental Voi at a man’s house in Bristol.
In a written statement to the Bristol City Council members’ forum on Tuesday January 11, Cllr Massey said: ‘Following the increased use of e-scooters, there have been a number of cases of e-scooters catching fire , and the AFRS ran into considerable difficulties. to put out fires due to the nature of scooters.
“The electric battery is sealed and it appears the only way to extinguish a fire of this nature is to completely submerge the scooter in water.
“The result is that the scooter is then contaminated, and it is difficult to remove it safely.
“A recent electric scooter fire in the central area proved very difficult to solve due to contamination, and ultimately AFRS had to contact the company to which the scooter belonged so that it could be taken away for safe disposal. security.”
Referring to the warehouse fire, she said: “Although the AFRS put out the fire, they had real difficulty getting a company representative on site as they were extremely reluctant to witness the incident.
“This follows an earlier fire at a house where a private scooter was stored and resulted in the severity of the fire destroying the house.
“I understand that the police and the crime commissioner are also concerned about the safety of these scooters.”
Cllr Massey said the use and storage of the vehicles was “very concerning”.
She asked: “With the increased availability of electric scooters, both trial and private, what arrangements are in place to manage the disposal of these contaminated items?”
In a written response, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: ‘It is important to stress that this is a trial and that any safety issues are continually being assessed by Weca and Voi to improve safety. .
“Batteries in large electrical appliances should be disposed of safely either at a household waste recycling center or by booking a bulky waste collection.”
Cllr Massey said: ‘As there is now increasing evidence, both in Bristol and other areas, that they pose a fire risk, appropriate arrangements for safety and l elimination are essential.
“As it looks like they will be a permanent feature of the city, sanctioned by the council, can we be reassured that adequate safety measures are in place to deal with these dangers?”
Mr Rees replied: ‘In relation to the Voi trial, the fire hazard implications have been isolated and are not considered indicative of the overall deployment, but this will continue to be monitored.’
In response to Cllr Massey’s concerns, Voi said that at no time did he hesitate to attend the warehouse incident and that a representative was on site immediately after the fire started before another senior representative arrives soon after, followed by the Voi warehouse manager and his extended team. .
Voi UKI Managing Director Jack Samler said: “We pride ourselves on putting safety at the top of our priorities and work closely with our fully licensed specialist partners to safely recycle and dispose of vehicles and batteries. responsibly damaged without any waste. dump.
“Voi has strict measures in place to ensure that all batteries are handled and stored safely throughout its operations.
“In the rare event an incident occurs, Voi acts quickly to support authorities, including firefighters, to ensure the appropriate action is taken.
“As a responsible company, we work with our partners to continuously review and audit the processes and practices in place to ensure the safety of our operations.”
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