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New York City Council unanimously passes 2 new e-bike safety rules in wake of deadly Harlem fire

NYC Council passes e-bike safety rules while pushing for federal legislation
NYC Council passes e-bike safety rules while pushing for federal legislation 02:12

NEW YORK -- New York City Council passed new safety laws Wednesday in an attempt to confront the growing dangers of lithium-ion batteries.

Several days later, residents are still dealing with the aftermath of a deadly fire that tore through a Harlem apartment building Friday. The fire was sparked by a lithium-ion battery, according to the FDNY.

"This is a senseless tragedy that could have been prevented," one tenant said.

The Department of Buildings issued a full vacate order, meaning dozens of families have been without a home since Friday. One tenant, who did not want to be identified, told CBS New York e-bikes parked in front of the St. Nicholas Place building have been a major issue since October.

"On many fronts, it has been reported to the management company, and to the city, on many occasions that there were e-bikes being parked in front of our building, upwards from 12 to 15 bikes at a time," the tenant said.

The fire took the life of 27-year old Fazil Khan and critically injured four others.

Wednesday morning, City Council voted unanimously to pass two new e-bike safety rules, one of which requires all businesses that sell e-bikes and e-scooters to post safety information about lithium-ion battery storage in stores and online.

The second rule will increase existing regulations prohibiting businesses from selling batteries that are not UL-certified by raising penalties for illegal sales and increasing city enforcement.

City Council says while the new rules are a win, members will continue to push for more federal legislation.

"We do not want anyone else to die from these fires ... And so the idea is to do the best we can in the city of New York. But we really need federal legislation that says only certified batteries can be sold in the United States of America," Councilmember Gale Brewer said.

Back in Harlem, tenants agree more needs to be done across the board to prevent future tragedies.

"A person lost their life. Apartments are destroyed. Families are being displaced ... They need to move quick because it's not just my building, it's happening all over the city and it can all be prevented," one tenant said.

Man killed in Harlem apartment building fire honored at vigil 00:50

A memorial for the victim in Friday's fire was held Wednesday evening, hosted by Columbia University. Khan, a data journalist, moved to the United States from India to attend Columbia Journalism School and graduated with his master's in 2021.

Friends remember him being passionate about life and his career, but most of all, they said he was kind.

"He never said no in the moments that mattered, and he was the kind of reliable friend that you could count on for absolutely everything," one speaker said.

According to the FDNY, in 2023 alone, lithium-in batteries caused 267 fires, 150 injuries and 18 deaths throughout the city.

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