The dangers of mobility scooter fires

Though rare, fires caused by mobility scooter batteries can be catastrophic. Read on to find out why.

The fire hazards posed by mobility scooters are manifold. With flammable parts, potentially volatile batteries (particularly lithium ion batteries), and their likelihood of being stored in fire escape routes, a fire caused by, or involving a mobility scooter can be an extremely dangerous prospect.

While these vehicles have boomed in popularity in recent years, giving improved quality of life and mobility to elderly and disabled people across the UK, many people are not aware of the dangers of mobility scooter fires. Landlords, householders, and people operating care homes and workspaces will be well advised to read this and gain an insight into how to recognise the hazards, and mitigate the risks successfully.

Why are mobility scooters so dangerous as a fire hazard?

Flammable batteries: Lithium ion batteries are particularly dangerous in the event of a fire due to thermal runaway, where the heat released causes further reaction and even potentially an explosion. More common lead acid batteries give extremely toxic fumes, and the ignition of the battery, along with the plastic trim of the scooter itself, can lead to a very intense and dangerous fire.

Fire escape obstruction: Storing a mobility scooter is no easy task, and their nature means that they need to be stored nearby for access and convenience. This often results in them blocking fire routes, which makes their potential for ignition extremely dangerous. Likewise, in the event of a fire elsewhere, their hazard as an obstruction alone is widely underestimated, leading to tragic consequences, particularly as many times the people needing to evacuate are not as mobile as the general public.

Toxic smoke emission: With the materials involved in mobility scooter manufacture, including hardwearing plastics for the chassis, rubber tyres, and the materials involved in the battery composition, the smoke emitted from a mobility scooter fire is highly toxic, and fills an enclosed room rapidly.

The combination of these factors multiplies the risk substantially.

How to manage the risk:

The most pertinent aspect is finding a suitable place for mobility scooter storage. This location ideally needs to be secure, away from a fire route, and with access to mains power for charging. Furthermore the location is best if other potential fuels are kept away from the location, such as furnishings, refuse, or paints. A garage or shed can be an ideal location if it is kept clear and secure.

Many residential homes have alcoves and bays especially made to accommodate mobility scooters. This is a great idea in theory, but it is vital that they are kept apart from each other, as fires involving multiple mobility scooters have the potential to become highly destructive very quickly. It is also important to make sure such areas are secure, to prevent both theft and arson.

With all fire safety solutions, the situation should be risk assessed to consider the following:

  • Arson risk
  • Construction and fire spread
  • Any impact on external escape routes
  • Electrical installation
  • Location, access and egress
  • Maintenance
  • Monitoring

Contact Wyvern Risk Management to talk about the safest solutions for your mobility scooter storage.

If you need any further advice, please give us a call on 0800 593 0916 or use the contact form below. 



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