Fires due to PMDs and PABs more than doubled to 54 in January-June from year ago: SCDF

(PHOTOS: SCDF/Facebook)
(PHOTOS: SCDF/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Fires involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) and power assisted bicycles (PABs) more than doubled in the first half of this year from the same period a year earlier, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Friday (26 July).

The number of such reported fires between January and June rose to 54 from 24 previously, the SCDF said in a post on its Facebook page.

Of the 54 reported fires, 36 took place in residential premises, resulting in 31 casualties. In comparison, 23 of the 24 reported fires a year earlier resulted in 11 casualties.

Without providing figures, the SCDF noted that the “majority” of PAB and PMD-related fires involved lithium ion batteries, and occurred while they were being charged or shortly after they had been fully charged.

“Fires can result from faulty electrical circuitry in batteries that causes short circuiting or overheating, and the risk of this increases with over-charging,” the SCDF added. It urged users to be vigilant when charging their devices and to use UL2272-certified devices. The UL2272 standard is a certification system that evaluates PMDs on the safety of their electrical systems.

Despite the increase in such fires, the overall fire situation remains safe with a stable number of fire incidents, said the SCDF.

“PAB and PMD fires continue to form a small percentage of the total number of fire incidents, with 2,231 fire incidents in the first half of this year.”

The SCDF also listed safety tips in its post to help users prevent similar fires.

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At least eight fires in flats involving PMDs were reported over the last three-and-a-half months, most of which occurred this month.

A 40-year-old man died two days after being conveyed to a hospital following a blaze in Bukit Batok on 18 July. He was likely to be the first PMD fire related fatality in Singapore.

Preliminary investigations showed that the fire was caused by three PMDs. Less a week later, a fire that left an Ang Mo Kio flat gutted had originated from a PMD that had been left to charge in the kitchen.

PMD- and PAB-related fires spiked more than 50 per cent to 74 cases last year, according to official figures.

None of the devices involved in the fires last year were known to be certified to their compliant standards, said Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan in a written reply to a parliamentary question in March.

As of 30 June, more than 85,000 e-scooters have been registered with the Land Transport Authority.

The LTA is considering whether to bring forward its deadline for all motorised PMDs to meet fire safety standards, which is currently set at the end of 2020.

Currently, PMDs which have not conformed to the UL2272 standard are banned from being sold since early this month.

Users who have already bought such devices before the ban are still allowed to ride them on public paths until 31 December 2020.

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