Managing the risks associated with electric scooter chargers

With the growing popularity of electric scooters has come a wave of reports of chargers overheating and causing fires. In Queensland, fire fighters are called to almost one fire event caused by lithium-ion batteries per week (ABC News, 2022). The fires caused by these batteries release flammable toxic gasses that contribute to fast-spreading flames, leading to serious property damage and severe injuries. This article outlines safety measures you can take to help limit the risks.

Leave it to the experts

Charging stations should only be installed and maintained by qualified professionals who must follow manufacturers’ guidelines. The number of bays should be limited to the professional advice of the installer and manufacturer and the switchboard should be assessed to accommodate for the extra load with appropriate overload cut-off switches and emergency shut down controls.

Location, location, location

Based on the emerging claims data, we discourage you from charging electric scooter batteries within your unit. Electric scooter charging stations should be located in a clean and dry place within the strata complex, meeting the relevant Australian standards. The Body Corporate should ensure there is appropriate fire protection in place including intervention and suppression resources nearby (e.g., hydrants, hose reels, extinguishers, ventilation, and sprinklers).  Chargers should be located away from proximate fuel loads and other flammable liquids.

The charging stations should also be accessible to Emergency Services in the event of a fire, which means they may need to be installed on common property. The charging stations should also be inaccessible to children. For added protection, consider:

  • Fire detection and early warning intercommunication systems
  • Smoke management and air handling systems
  • The fire resistance of proximate construction

If you have electric scooter charging stations within your strata complex, your Body Corporate will need to clarify who is responsible for maintaining them. To minimise risk, it’s preferable that the Body Corporate attends to the maintenance. This way, chargers can be checked as part of the overall fire protection program and the location of the units have the appropriate fire protection in place. This can be hard to manage if batteries are charged within individual units.

Communicate with clarity

We recommend that all Bodies Corporate recognise the real risk of by lithium-ion battery fires to the personal safety of occupants and properties and ensure there are clear usage instructions nearby. This signage should also include instructions for assessing whether batteries are safe to use.

Chat to your broker

It’s critically important to inform your broker and or insurer if you have electric vehicle charging stations within your building complex.

Rebecca Crowther
Honan Insurance

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