New Westchester legislation takes steps to prevent lithium-ion battery fires

The Department of Consumer Protection will enforce the new law with fines of up to $1,000 for violations.

Veronica Jean Seltzer

Nov 2, 2023, 12:32 AM

Updated 261 days ago

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Westchester County is taking steps to prevent dangerous lithium-ion battery fires.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed legislation Wednesday that only allows graded batteries for electric mobility devices to be sold in the county.
It also requires every electric mobility device seller to post a safety notice.
The Department of Consumer Protection will enforce the new law with fines of up to $1,000 for violations.
"In signing this legislation, we are taking a significant step in protecting Westchester County from the dangers of lithium-ion battery fires. Our comprehensive Lithium-Ion Battery Safety Program, featuring safe disposal options, point-of-sale warnings, firefighter training and robust education efforts, demonstrates our commitment to public safety. We're dedicated to ensuring that these batteries are used responsibly, safeguarding the lives and property of Westchester County residents," Latimer said. "The Board of Legislators passed the new law unanimously."
Because the global micro-mobility market is projected to grow from about $40 billion today to $215 billion by 2030, due in large part to the sale and use of battery-powered electric devices of all types, the time to act on regulating lithium-ion batteries is now.
"We are glad to be on the same page as the County Executive in identifying and acting on this increasing threat to public safety," Board Chair Vedat Gashi said.
"As Chair of the Public Safety Committee, I am pleased to announce this new local law to protect residents and first responders from fires and explosions caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries. The law regulates the use, sale, and lease of E-bikes and other electric mobility devices. Retail outlets will now be required to post warning signs about lithium-ion battery fire risk," Legislator Terry Clements said.
"Lithium-ion batteries are increasingly found in devices that the public and first responders interact with every day, including cars, scooters, laptops and electric bikes. As a volunteer firefighter, I have witnessed firsthand the damage that these devices can cause. This legislation is a starting point to help protect lives and property, and provides the necessary framework to help prevent devastating battery-related incidents," Minority Leader Margaret Cunzio said.
"As the use of these items has greatly increased over the past several years, so too has the incidence of damage to both personal safety and property. In some cases, improper use has even caused some fatalities. This law not only regulates the sale of lithium-ion battery devices, but requires retailers to post conspicuous warnings regarding the potential dangers associated with them, as well providing for a robust public information campaign aimed at educating consumers of the risks posed by their use," Legislator Colin Smith said.
The law is part of a new comp comprehensive Lithium-Ion Battery Safety Program.
"Westchester County's comprehensive Lithium-Ion Battery Safety Program is a crucial step in safeguarding our community from the relentless threat of lithium-ion battery fires. As first responders, we've witnessed the devastating consequences of these incidents. The program's focus on education, safe disposal, and point-of-sale warnings aligns perfectly with our mission to protect lives and property in New Rochelle and throughout the County and we thank County Executive Latimer and the Board of Legislators for their efforts," New Rochelle Fire Chief Andy Sandor said. 
The county has put together a video with tips on how to prevent lithium-ion battery fires and how to safely dispose of the batteries.


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