New safety standard 'a necessary step' to reduce risk of PMD-related fires: LTA

New safety standard 'a necessary step' to reduce risk of PMD-related fires: LTA

File photo of personal mobility devices. 

SINGAPORE: The new UL2272 safety standard is "a necessary step" that needs to be taken to reduce the risk of fires involving personal mobility devices (PMD), the Land Transport Authority said on Thursday (Sep 13), even while it acknowledged that the requirement will affect retailers in the immediate term. 

All motorised PMDs must meet the UL2272 fire safety standard by 2021 to ensure public safety, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said in Parliament on Monday.

The requirement has drawn criticism from retailers and users, as it would render a large number of e-scooters in the Singapore market illegal in less than three years.

LTA on Thursday defended the move, saying there is a need to address fire safety concerns and "safeguard the community at large" to ensure that motorised PMDs remain a sustainable mode of transport in Singapore.

The authority pointed out that there have been more than 80 fire incidents involving motorised PMDs since 2016.

"Based on consultations with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), motorised PMD fires may occur due to the overheating of batteries, which may in turn be caused by physical damage to the device, overcharging with an unsuitable charger, poor battery quality, exposure to heat, or manufacturing defects," LTA said in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.

"To address these fire safety concerns, LTA has studied the safety standards available today and determined that the UL2272 standard is suitable for Singapore." 

The UL2272 standard was developed in the USA, and devices undergo a series of electrical, mechanical and environmental tests before being certified. 

LTA said that it had also studied other possible standards but determined that they currently do not cover most types of motorised PMDs commonly used in Singapore. 

It added that it is also studying other standards - such as the draft European standard prEN17128 - and is "open to considering other standards as and when these are deemed sufficiently able to reduce fire risks for motorised PMDs, and are suitable for our local context".

LTA said it met representatives from 22 retailers on Thursday to share more about the planned adoption of the UL2272 standard. 

"This session was part of LTA’s regular engagement with the retailers and follows our engagement with retailers in Feb 2018. At that session, LTA shared about the rising number of PMD-related fires and our review of suitable fire safety standards," LTA said. 

"Feedback from retailers was sought at the session and also post-session through email and feedback forms on whether they could propose other standards that could sufficiently address fire risks, the timeline they would require for implementation, and other issues. 

"Their feedback subsequently was taken into account in the review."

LTA said that banning the sale of non-UL2272 certified devices from July 2019 will provide retailers with a nine-month transition period to change their inventories and adapt to the regulation. 

"LTA intends to prohibit the use of non-UL2272 certified devices on public paths by January 2021, which will provide existing device owners with a grace period of over two years from now to make the transition to a UL2272-certified PMD," it added. 

"This takes into account the average PMD lifespan of about two to three years."

LTA assured retailers that it will provide its "full support" during this transition period.

Source: CNA/ra(aj)