A community initiative to keep you safe

A new community initiative all about education has been rolled out in response to a rise in e-scooter and e-bike fires in the region.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) and Gateshead Council have been working together to educate residents in high rise properties about the dangers of this year’s most popular Christmas present.

Ahead of the festive period, officers from Gateshead Council’s Building Safety team have teamed up with firefighters from Gateshead Community Fire Station to speak to residents about safe storage and charging of e-scooters and e-bikes this Christmas.

TWFRS responded to seven serious fires at people’s homes involving e-bikes or e-scooters in 2023.

The initiative has been specifically targeting those in high rise buildings as they may use communal areas to store or charge their e-scooter or e-bike, putting more people at risk.

Station Manager Andy Nelson, from TWFRS, has today (Friday) thanked the council for their partnership and issued a warning ahead of the big day.

SM Nelson said: “We are not trying to spoil anyone’s Christmas but we do want you to take cautious measures when it comes to the presents you buy and the aftercare of these presents.

“When you live in high rise buildings, you have to think about those who live around you, and how your actions might affect them.

“Some of the fires linked to faulty lithium ion batteries have had tragic consequences across the country and we don’t want to see that in our region.

“The batteries are commonly found in e-scooters and e-bikes, but are also found in other common electrical goods, including disposable vapes.

“I want to thank Gateshead Council for their continued support during this initiative and working with us to educate the public about the consequences of their actions.”

Councillor John Adams, Cabinet Member for Housing at Gateshead Council, said:

“Many of the devices we will be giving as gifts this Christmas, particularly e-bikes and e-scooters will contain rechargeable batteries, yet so few of us are fully aware of the potential dangers they can present if the proper precautions aren’t considered, and the consequences of what can happen should something go wrong.

“I encourage all of us to follow the advice and guidance that exists regarding lithium-ion batteries, so that we can enjoy the items that contain them responsibly and safely.”

TWFRS have issued some top tips to keep you safe this Christmas, relating in particular to e-bikes and e-scooters:

• Charge batteries whilst you are awake and alert so if a fire should occur you can respond quickly.
• Don’t leave batteries to charge while asleep or away from home.
• Always use the manufacturer approved charger for the product, and if you spot any signs of wear and tear or damage buy an official replacement charger.
• Do not cover chargers or battery packs when charging as this could lead to overheating or even a fire.
• Do not charge batteries or store your e-bike or e-scooter near combustible or flammable materials.
• Do not overcharge your battery and do not overload socket outlets or use inappropriate extension leads.
• Avoid storing or charging e-bikes and e-scooters on escape routes or in communal areas of a multi occupied building. If there’s a fire, it can affect people’s ability to escape.
• In the event of an e-bike, e-scooter or lithium-ion battery fire – do not attempt to extinguish the fire yourself. Get out, stay out, and call 999.
• Current legislation bans private e-scooters and e-bikes from being ridden in public but the use remains widespread across the UK.

Please remember to avoid disposing of batteries or electrical items in household bins.

The batteries can ignite if not disposed of correctly, and should be taken to your nearest local recycling centre, this includes vapes and small handheld devices.

You can read the comprehensive fire safety, charging and storage advice on the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) website.