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FDNY busts lithium-ion battery manufacturing operation in Queens

FDNY officials recover battery packs, lithium-ion cells in Queens bust
FDNY officials recover battery packs, lithium-ion cells in Queens bust 01:54

NEW YORK -- The FDNY says it busted an illegal lithium-ion battery operation in Queens.

Wilson's Electric Scooters and Sales along Queens Boulevard in Rego Park is where the FDNY says it shut down an illegal lithium-ion manufacturing operation. 

"Nobody teach me. They don't do nothing but take money, give me ticket," owner Wilson Chen said. "We want to make good quality battery for sale, so we need the sample to apply for UL license." 

"They recovered approximately 60 battery packs and hundreds of individual lithium-ion cells. Approximately 25 e-scooters and 25 combination electric and gas mopeds were also recovered," FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh said on Tuesday the FDNY's Lithium-Ion Task Force discovered the business was building battery packs from individual battery cells and replacing old ones in violation of the fire code, creating "Frankenstein batteries."

The department emphasized unregulated, tampered with, and non-certified batteries are extremely dangerous and deadly.

"They kill people, they have killed people and they will kill more people if businesses continue to operate in this manner," Kavanagh said.

Justin Yap is a customer, and lives down the street from the shop. 

"They always have the bikes parked out, kind of covering the sidewalk," he said. "That's a good thing, to have the neighborhood a little safer." 

The FDNY confirmed a fire that broke out at around 3:30 a.m. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, was caused by a lithium-ion battery meant to power a moped.

"The person had bought that battery from somebody on the street. It was not the original battery that came with the product, so he did not know if that battery was certified or where it was manufactured," FDNY Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn said.

The FDNY said it hopes the bust sends an important message.

"The message to other businesses that are operating like this will be that we will find you and we will shut you down and that what you're doing is dangerous," Kavanagh said.

The FDNY said lithium-ion batteries caused 267 fires, 150 injuries and 18 deaths in the city in 2023.

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