Manage episode 377738438 series 2432755
Laura Kavanagh was appointed Fire Commissioner by Mayor Eric Adams in October 2022. As Fire Commissioner, Kavanagh oversees the day-to-day operations of the largest fire department in the country, with more than 17,000 employees and a $2 billion budget. We're excited to have Laura Kavanagh on the show today to talk specifically about battery fires, where according to the FDNY, batteries have led to 180 fires (now 187) and tragically 14 people have died so far this year in NYC. Summary
Commissioner Laura Kavanagh of the NYC Fire Department discusses her rise through the ranks and her leadership in handling various emergencies. The focus of the conversation centers on the rising incidence of battery fires in the city, attributed to small electric vehicles like e-bikes, used predominantly by delivery workers. There is concern about the modifications and underground markets around these devices, emphasizing the need for regulation, inspection, and collaboration with other departments and agencies to address the immediate and future challenges presented by these battery fires.
- Laura Kavanagh, the 34th commissioner of the NYC Fire Department, has held various roles and oversaw the department’s response to several emergencies, including the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and the Ebola outbreak in 2015.
- The FDNY reports a substantial rise in battery fires, recording 220 in 2022, up from 30 in 2019, and has noted the prevalence of these fires in small electric vehicles like e-bikes, scooters, and mopeds.
- Much attention is given to delivery workers as they are heavily reliant on these devices, which are often modified or altered to enhance performance or extend battery life, contributing to the risks and frequency of fires.
- Numerous issues arise from modifications, DIY conversion kits, and unregulated devices entering the market, creating unsafe conditions and usage that go beyond the original intended design of these electric vehicles.
- The challenge of inspecting and regulating these devices is intensified by the prevalence of underground markets and the inability to inspect private apartments where unsafe charging and alterations often occur.
- The FDNY is collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to examine and address the public safety impacts, with considerations on future innovations, recycling, and regulations on electrification.
- While government agencies are receptive and showing progress, Kavanagh emphasizes the urgency in expediting regulations and legislative actions to address the growing and immediate risks associated with battery fires in small electric vehicles.