Westchester County leads the way on creating dedicated safe disposal opportunities for the public and fire personnel, point of sale warnings and working to educate all on the dangers of these increasingly prevalent batteries creating fire disasters

Watch a short video on the County’s Lithium-Ion Battery Safety Program HERE.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed legislation to only allow regulated and graded lithium ion batteries for electric mobility devices be sold in Westchester County. The new law also requires every retail establishment located in Westchester which sells E-bikes and electric mobility devices to post a safety notice in the place where such devices are displayed or be delivered to the purchaser.

Latimer said: “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.”

The County’s Department of Consumer Protection Department will be enforcing this new point-of-sale legislation with tickets written with fines of up to $1,000 per violation.

This legislation passed the Board of Legislators unanimously.

Board Chair Vedat Gashi said: “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.”

Legislator Terry Clements 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.”

Minority Leader Margaret Cunzio 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.”

Legislator Colin Smith 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."

Westchester County has already experienced lithium-ion battery fires with e-bikes, e-scooters, hover boards, laptops, a lawnmower and a drone. In New York City, there have been several fires which have resulted in fatalities.

In response to growing concerns over the potential hazards associated with lithium-ion batteries, Latimer and the County’s Department of Emergency Services, Department of Environmental Facilities and Department of Consumer Protection have also instituted safe disposal opportunities for the public and fire personnel, point of sale warnings and efforts to educate all on the dangers of these increasingly prevalent batteries creating fire disasters.

Lithium-ion batteries pose significant risks if mishandled or improperly disposed of. Even when lithium-ion battery fires appear to be out, the batteries can reignite days later due to the energy that remains trapped inside the damaged battery cells. Recognizing the urgency to address these dangers, Latimer has initiated a comprehensive approach to tackle this issue head-on.

Westchester’s new comprehensive Lithium-Ion Battery Safety Program includes:

  • Legislation requiring point of sale warnings and safety information,
  • Requirements that devices meet UL safety standards, and
  • Prohibition on the sale of re-assembled or damaged batteries.

New Rochelle Fire Department Chief Andy Sandor said: “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.”

The Program also includes public education, Firefighter training, and disposal options for damaged and old batteries.

Residents can bring lithium-ion batteries, damaged or otherwise ready for disposal to the H-MRF in Valhalla. Residents outside the Refuse Disposal District (Bedford, Lewisboro, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and Somers), may incur a fee associated with handling and/or disposal. New York State also offers an extended producer responsibility program for non-mobility batteries under 25 lbs. administered by Call2Recycle. Residents can contact Call2 Recycle to find a drop-off location near them.

Some manufacturers handle lithium-ion battery disposal directly. Residents may consider contacting the manufacturer of the battery or product for safe disposal options.

Certain brands of lithium-ion batteries used for e-bikes can be brought to a local e-bike retailer for handling.

Other tips for residents include:

  • When transporting lithium-ion batteries that are damaged, residents should take care to package them for transport and may place them in sand or kitty litter.
  • Extra-large lithium-ion batteries, such as those used for electric vehicles, are not accepted at the H-MRF. Residents should contact the manufacturer for safe disposal options of these batteries.
  • Residents should contact the local fire department if there is a thermal event (sparking or fire) from a lithium-ion battery. Fire departments are trained to respond to these events and secure the battery to prevent re-ignition of the battery.

This multifaceted fire safety and prevention program focusses on the safe use, charging, storage and disposal of lithium ion batteries. It is designed to inform the public about the potential dangers of lithium ion batteries, as well as to help ensure the safe handling and use of such batteries and related devices.  This will help protect the public as well as the firefighters who respond to these dangerous fires.

DES Chief of Special Operations Doug Stiller said: “Lithium-ion batteries present an evolving challenge in terms of public safety, and we must adapt to mitigate the risks they pose. Westchester County's proactive measures, from regulating battery sales to providing disposal options, underscore our commitment to ensuring the well-being of our residents. As the Chief of Special Operations, I believe this program will enhance our preparedness and response capabilities, ultimately reducing the impact of lithium-ion battery incidents on our community and I look forward to working with the County Executive and the Board of Legislators on its implementation.”