Dangerous e-bike batteries removed from market thanks to WMFS support

Joint working proves successful as dangerous batteries removed from sale

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Published on 26 March 2024

Vital evidence shared by West Midlands Fire Service’s (WMFS) fire investigators with the UK’s national product regulator has led to dangerous e-bike batteries being withdrawn from sale.

Enforcement action to remove the goods from several online marketplaces followed a severe fire in a Coventry high-rise and investigations by our Fire Investigation and Protection Section (FIPS). A ‘UPP’ battery was identified as the source.

In September 2023, around fifty firefighters responded to Samuel Vale House on Radford Street. They successfully extinguished the fire, and no one was hurt. However, the damage was significant, as shown in these photographs.

Our FIPS officers submitted evidence to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). As a result, four online marketplaces, 20 online sellers, and the China-based manufacturer are no longer permitted to sell the ‘UPP’ e-bike battery.

Fire damage to a property

Matt Ling, Station Manager with FIPS, said: “Our work directly supplying OPSS with product fire notifications (PFN’s) began in September 2022.

 

Matt Ling

Station Manager, Fire Investigation and Prevention

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We work hard to understand how fires start, to stop them happening again.
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“Firefighters and Fire Investigation Officers log details about products identified as being involved in fires, which OPSS uses to understand which products pose a risk and enable them to require businesses to undertake recall or corrective action where necessary.

Fire damage to a living area in a property

Graham Russell, Chief Executive of the Office for Product Safety and Standards said: “By working closely with fire and rescue services across the UK, we can access critical data that builds a picture to identify products that may be putting people at risk.

“The data and information we get from West Midlands Fire Service ensures that our regulatory activities are risk based and intelligence-led.

“A key example of this is the recent UPP battery enforcement action taken by OPSS to stop the supply of dangerous batteries used in e-bikes. This follows reports of fires involving this product by fire and rescue services, including WMFS.”

Colin Stidworthy, Watch Manager at Billesley Fire Station, assists FIPS officers by gathering evidence at scenes. He added: “Our priority when responding to a fire is keeping people safe and limiting damage. However, our work doesn’t necessarily stop there.

“Our work with OPSS is potentially lifesaving. We must identify any products that might be dangerous, and to ensure that we log incidents to capture any trends.”

The video below is of an incident which happened in Birmingham last year, when an e-bike battery exploded. For more information on how to use them safely, visit our dedicated web page.