An LFB spokesman reported that this year, the department has responded to one e-scooter or e-bike fire every two days.

Dominic Ellis, deputy commissioner at LFB, told City Hall on Wednesday that a lithium-ion battery fire can engulf a double bedroom in 10 to 15 seconds.

Batteries used to power electric scooters and bicycles have been known to start "quick and ferocious" house fires, according to him.

The Fire, Resilience, and Emergency Planning Committee was informed that a battery fire could begin as a result of impact damage or short circuiting.

A 60% increase in e-bike fires this year, "partially linked to [retrofitted] bikes," according to Mr. Ellis, who testified before the committee.

According to LFB data, there have already been 70 e-bike, 14 e-scooter, and 35 other lithium-battery fires in London in 2023.

"For a lot of the gig economy... it’s at the end of their bed and they’re probably charging while [the owner sleeps] because they’ve just done a 14-hour shift and they need to get back out there again," Mr Ellis said.

"It’s the intimacy of this risk that's the key concern."

Mr. Ellis said that when a lithium-ion battery begins to fail, it smells like "nail varnish remover" and makes a "highly flammable toxic gas cloud" that looks like steam.

He spoke of the chemical reaction's fire jets, which range in temperature from 1,000 C (1832 F) to 2,000 C. So it's very warm, he said.

"When it explodes, bits of molten metal are sprayed across the room."

'Good and bad e-bikes'

A clearer distinction between "good and bad e-bikes" is required, according to Dan Parsons, director of the bike company Fully Charged e-bikes.

He claimed that "good e-bikes" from reliable manufacturers have never had any problems.

Retrofit kits, which are frequently used by delivery personnel, present a risk, he added.

Mr Ellis said that buying from reputable sellers "does not completely remove the risk of fire" and urged Londoners to follow LFB safety advice.

Baroness Fiona Twycross, deputy mayor for fire and resilience at City Hall, added: "There is an urgent need for the government to introduce a regulatory framework."

In the south-east, e-scooters were prohibited from using train networks earlier this month.

In December 2021, Transport for London implemented a ban on e-scooters and e-unicycles throughout its network. E-bikes that fold up are allowed on the network.

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