The growing problem of e-scooter fires

Fire erupts through the window and the smoke blows into the East London air, in a video shared on Twitter and Facebook that has had thousands and thousands of views. The cause? A fire caused by an e-scooter’s lithium battery.

There are growing concerns about fires involving lithium ion batteries, so much so that it was raised at the Kent Fire and Rescue Authority meeting this week.

Further evidence of the need to stop the sale of e-scooters has emerged after data I have gathered shows that we have a growing problem of fires caused by electric scooters. I asked all Fire and Rescue Services:

how many incidents your fire and rescue service attended in the calendar years 2020 and 2021 where the cause of the fire was an electronic scooter (e-scooter).

The response from the 33 Services that replied was very good in terms of their speed, effort and accuracy. They showed that:

  • There were a total of 128 fires where the e-scooter was found to be the cause.
  • When it was possible to be broken down by year, there were 33 in 2020 and 75 in 2021, with the rest provided for the two year period.

London has seen some of the most high profile incidents, with one catching fire on a train, leading to Transport for London banning them from their services. Their review found:

the incidents that occurred were caused by defective lithium-ion batteries which ruptured without warning. This led to fires that caused toxic smoke to be released.

Transport for London, December 2021

The London Fire Brigade had already put out specific guidance on the matter, pointing to issues with batteries bought from the internet.

These concerns are in addition to the increasing efforts of policing to seize illegally ridden e-scooters from our streets. Across the country, thousands of devices have now been taken away from riders.

This is just one example of the regular tweets being put out by Kent Police, who have been active in dealing with the problem. It’s fast becoming one of the top issues in my post bag and for others too.

For the safety of property, of road users and the riders themselves, we need the sale of these devices to be stopped. With increased numbers of fires and more people being killed and seriously injured this needs to end now – ban the sale of e-scooters.

Video blog:

Shocking rise in e-scooter fires

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