12th June 2024

Bereaved father urges e-bike safety

A father who lost his partner and children in a fire caused by an exploding e-bike battery has called for tighter regulation of the devices.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
If my story doesn’t show the desperate need for a change in regulation, then I don’t know what will
The status quo is killing people, ruining lives and continues to leave households at risk

A man who lost his family in a fire caused by a faulty e-bike battery has called for the introduction of stricter safety measures to prevent the devices causing any more deaths.

Scott Peden (30) lost his partner Gemma (31), his eight-year-old daughter Lilly and four-year-old son Oliver when a fire caused by a battery from an e-bike purchased online ripped through the family home in Cambridge in June 2023.

Gemma, Lilly and Oliver tragically died in the fire, and Scott was placed in an induced coma with 15% internal burns and other injuries.

Now, on the one-year anniversary of the fire, Peden is adding his voice to the calls of consumer safety charity, Electrical Safety First, for all political parties to commit to bringing in tougher safety laws to prevent further such tragedies.

Peden said: “June marks one year since I lost my partner and two children in an e-bike fire at my home last summer and life hasn’t been the same since. I feel like my life has ended and I don’t know how to move on.

“Before the fire, I had no idea about the dangers of these lithium-ion batteries. I bought my battery online and just assumed it would be safe, I never imagined it could be so dangerous. The battery exploded under my stairs, whilst my family was asleep. Flames were coming up the stairs like a flamethrower. The fire and smoke filled the house up in seconds. I told them to jump but they couldn’t get out. I’ve lost everything from that one night and my heart has been left broken.

“If my story doesn’t show the desperate need for a change in regulation, then I don’t know what will. I’m urging all the political parties to come together to tackle the issue of e-bike fires so that no one has to go through what I did. My life has been ruined but I can help to save someone else’s.”

Electrical Safety First has called for the introduction of independent third-party certification for e-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries to reduce the risk of substandard batteries entering people’s homes. At present, manufacturers can self-declare their e-bikes and batteries are safe. Electrical Safety First’s recommendations were first outlined last year in its comprehensive report, Battery Breakdown – the first report of its kind to assess the growing risk of e-bike and e-scooter fires and propose solutions to reduce the risk to households.

Similar requirements are already in place for other high-risk products, such as fireworks and heavy machinery.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, commented: “Right across the country people are dying because of these fires, and people like Scott are left living with the grief and devastation. The status quo is killing people, ruining lives and continues to leave households at risk.

“We are urging all political parties and any future government to tackle this issue urgently. Time is of the essence, and we owe it to those who have lost their lives to ensure we do all we can to prevent further tragedies. Legislation is desperately needed, and it is unconscionable to let the status quo go unchanged.

“All political parties must to come together to tackle this issue and we want to work with any future government to address the problem as a priority. They will have the power to save lives and prevent future heartache.”

Growing problem
Recent FOI figures show e-bike fires are on the rise across many parts of the country, with figures released by QBI Insurance showing e-bike fires increased 70% in 2023.

Last year, 11 people lost their lives to fires involved e-bikes and e-scooters, with hundreds injured as a result of the fires caused by the lithium-ion batteries powering the devices.

Other victims who have lost their lives to e-bike fires include Sofia Duarte, who died in London on New Years Day, 2023, at the age of just 21, when a converted e-bike caught fire during the night. Sofia was unable to escape the building with the fire blocking her escape route.

Alda Simoes (46), a lifelong friend to Sofia and her family, said: “We are out of time to save our beautiful Sofia and everyone that has passed away like her. But we will do everything in our power to prevent others going through what Sofia’s mum, me, family and friends are going through.

“Change needs to happen. There are people dying, what are we waiting for? Sofia’s death must have a purpose. If nothing changes, her death will be in vain.”

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