05 Aug 2019

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Regulations for the Safe Charging of Batteries so as to Prevent Accidental Fires, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Question :

Mr Murali Pillai: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs given the prevalence of the use of more powerful batteries for phones, PMDs and other devices and the risk of accidental fires being caused by the overcharging of these batteries, whether the SCDF will consider issuing regulations for the safe charging of such batteries at residences and work places. 

Answer:

  1. Since 2016, there have been 230 fires involving electronic devices. 91% of these involved personal mobility devices (“PMDs”), power assisted bicycles (“PABs”) and personal mobility aids (“PMAs”). The remaining involved smaller devices, like power banks, mobile phones, laptops and tablets.
  2.  

  3. 67% of the fires related to mobility devices occurred at HDB residential units. 6% occurred at private residential units, and the remaining took place at non-residential premises, such as industrial and commercial buildings.

     

  4. Imposing regulations on how to charge batteries safely will be difficult given the widespread use of electronic devices, and the wide range of devices, which would make any such regulations difficult to craft and enforce. Consumers should be aware, however, that the charging of electronic devices carries some inherent risks. We strongly encourage consumers to exercise vigilance when purchasing and charging electronic devices. They should buy from reputable sources and adhere to the safety advice on the charging of the devices.

     

  5. In particular, given the larger batteries in PMDs, PABs and PMAs, users should be especially careful when using and charging these devices. They should regularly inspect the batteries for signs of damage and corrosion, and avoid leaving the devices being charged unattended for an extended period of time. I urge all users to refer to SCDF’s website for best practices.

     

  6. Also, PMD users should switch to UL-2272 compliant devices as soon as possible, as they meet higher safety standards. For example, they prevent overcharging by cutting off the power supply to the batteries once they are fully charged.

     

  7. SCDF will further step up its efforts to educate users to adopt good fire safety habits, in partnership with LTA.
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