The e-scooter caught light on a train which was stopped at Parsons Green underground station in November 2021. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, although one passenger did suffer smoke inhalation. This incident, and other recent fires involving e-scooters on its premises, prompted TfL to launch an urgent review, which was supported by evidence from the Brigade’s experts.
TfL announced the ban, meaning customers in possession of e-scooters and e-unicycles will not be permitted to enter any premises on TfL’s network or travel on any of its services, including the tube, buses, overground, TfL Rail, trams and DLR. The ban comes just days after the Metropolitan Police Service launched a crackdown on the illegal use of e-scooters on the public highway and ScotRail is also considering a ban.
London Fire Brigade has already issued an urgent safety warning this year over concerns about a spike in fires involving electric bikes and private e-scooters and regularly highlights incidents and issues safety advice to keep people safe if they own one. This year, firefighters have attended more than 50 fires involving e-scooters and e-bikes – which is double the total amount seen in 2020. One recent blaze saw an electric bike which had been leant against a hallway radiator catch light. While the majority of these fires have happened in homes, there is a concern there could be an increase in outside areas and on public transport as more people return to work and use e-scooters and e-bikes to travel. Fire investigators have found the fires to be particularly ferocious and fierce enough to pose an immediate danger to residents when they happen in homes, particularly as they are often stored in escape routes such as corridors and communal areas. This can further hinder people’s escape from a fire.
London Fire Brigade’s concerns mainly relate to faulty third-party batteries, as many of the incidents that firefighters are attending involve batteries which have been sourced on the internet and don’t meet the correct safety standards.
LFB’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings said, “We have growing concerns about the safety of e-scooters and e-bikes due to the amount of fires we are seeing involving them, so we fully support TfL’s ban of private e-scooters on public transport. Fires are dangerous and terrifying wherever they happen, but a fire on the transport network has the potential to become very serious very quickly and involve hundreds of people, particularly on trains where evacuation may be challenging, so anything that can be done to mitigate that risk is a positive step. We also have concerns around people trying to tackle these fires themselves, thinking the vapours given off are only steam, when they actually contain harmful and toxic gases. You should never try to tackle a fire yourself. Leave it to the professionals. As soon as you become aware of a fire in your property, get out, stay out, close the door behind you and call 999."
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