Strata Body Pushes to Ban E-Bike, E-Scooter Charging Inside Apartments

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The by-law could also impose a ban on the storage of cheaper imported, modified, or damaged e-bikes in apartments.

Australian apartment residents may soon be prohibited from charging e-bikes or e-scooters inside their homes under new rules developed to tackle rising fire risks from lithium batteries.

The Owners Corporation Network (OCN), a peak body representing strata owners in the country, is currently pushing for the adoption of a new by-law that regulates the management of e-bikes or e-scooters among owners corporations, according to ABC News.

The by-law is a product of a collaboration between the OCN, local authorities, and electric vehicle (EV) experts and could impose a ban on the storage of cheaper imported, modified, or damaged e-bikes in apartments.

While OCN board chair Fred Tuckwell supported the adoption of e-bikes and e-scooters among the public, he said there needed to be measures to ensure the safety of those products.

“We’re not saying ban the things. We’re just saying mitigate the risk and just be cautious and sensible,” he said, as reported by ABC News.

Pointing to recent battery-related fires, Mr. Tuckwell said the risks mostly came from modified, damaged, or cheaper unsafe electric products.

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“If you’ve got a high-risk device, like the cheap imports or something that’s damaged, and then you take that into a house or an apartment building, you’re actually asking for trouble,” he said.

“Don’t buy cheap junk, don’t hot them up, and don’t put them in the fire egress path.”

The chairman also advised apartment residents to use outdoor areas, such as a balcony, to charge their electric devices to prevent fire risks.

Meanwhile, Bicycle NSW CEO Peter McLean was sceptical about whether it was feasible for strata schemes to enforce the proposed by-law.

“There’s no point bringing in rules that can’t actually be enforced and probably only encourage people to do the wrong thing behind people’s backs,” he said.

The CEO also believed e-bikes and e-scooters were “very safe” mobility equipment and that many fires occurred because people used fast chargers, which were not designed for those devices, to charge the batteries.

The Rise of Battery-Related Fires

Mr. Tuckwell’s statement comes following the emergence of high-profile fires caused by lithium batteries in recent months.

On Jan. 5, a large fire broke out at a two-storey e-bike factory in Sydney.

Over 60 firefighters and 15 fire trucks were sent to combat the fire, which took two hours to be contained.

While no injuries were reported, authorities warned that local residents could suffer power cuts and some other inconveniences caused by the fire.

Authorities have not identified the cause of the fire, and the investigation still remains ongoing.

In October 2023, a lithium-ion battery suspected to be part of an e-bike exploded inside a Sydney hostel, forcing occupants to evacuate the building while nearby streets were shut down to respond to the emergency.

The explosion caused a man in his 20s to suffer minor burns to his leg, who was later transported to a local hospital for treatment.

The fire authority suspected the faulty e-bike battery was the cause of the fire.

According to Fire and Rescue New South Wales (NSW), there were 185 lithium battery-related fires in the year to date up to Dec. 8, up from 165 incidents in 2022.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services also reported over 60 fires in the first half of the 2023-2024 financial year compared to 127 in the previous year.

The significant rise in battery-related fires has caused insurers and authorities to issue warnings to consumers about the fire risks of using mobility devices with built-in lithium batteries.

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