73 PMD-related fires from Jan to Sept, figure is highest in 5 years

On Dec 5, a personal mobility devices that was being charged in a Clementi Housing Board common corridor caused a fire that led to three residents being evacuated. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The number of fires related to personal mobility devices (PMDs) has reached its highest in five years.

There were 73 PMD-related fires in the first nine months of this year, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said in a Facebook post on Sunday (Dec 15).

This number is almost equal to the 74 fires involving these devices for the whole of last year. More of such fires have happened since September.

A man and an infant were taken to hospital on Oct 8 after a fire in a Bukit Batok flat, suspected to have been caused by a PMD.

And on Dec 5, a PMD that was being charged in a Clementi Housing Board common corridor caused a fire that led to three residents being evacuated.

Fires involving these devices have become increasingly common in recent years.

In 2017, there were 49 PMD-related fires, up from 14 in 2016 and just one in 2015.

A total of 71 victims were injured by these fires from 2016 to September this year.

They included a 40-year-old man who died in hospital after being rescued from his burning flat in Bukit Batok in July. The blaze was linked to three e-scooters found burnt in the unit.

Many victims had thought that these fires would not happen to them, SCDF said in its Facebook post. "But your household items, pets, and your loved ones can be in danger when a PMD fire happens."

The deadline for PMDs to be certified safe was brought forward by six months to July 1, 2020, in response to concerns about the risks they pose to the public, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min in Parliament in August.

He also announced that from April 1 next year, all e-scooters will have to go for mandatory inspections.

The UL2272 standard is a set of safety requirements covering the electrical drive train system of PMDs, including the battery system. Devices have to undergo rigorous tests at accredited testing centres before being certified.

In a video in its Facebook post, the SCDF advises members of the public to dispose of PMDs which are not UL2272-certified as soon as possible.

From now until March next year, they can dispose of the devices at designated disposal points set up by e-waste recyclers appointed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) across Housing Board estates, or at the LTA's Sin Ming office.

PMD users should also examine their devices' batteries regularly for damage and deformities such as bloating, corrosion or powdery residue, said the SCDF.

They should not leave their devices charging for a prolonged period of time unattended or overnight, or immediately after use.

The SCDF also reminded users to avoid tampering, modifying or repairing their devices or batteries.

For more information on UL2272 certification, go to www.go.gov.sg/ul2272sg or www.go.gov.sg/pmddisposal.

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