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Thinking about getting a mobility scooter?

Mobility scooters can be a real lifeline for many people who experience problems getting around. They can provide new freedoms and really help support a person’s quality of life. If you are thinking about getting one, there are some important things you need to consider first.

Is your home suitable?

Where will you store and charge your scooter? If you can store and charge your scooter in your own home, then you do not generally need to get our permission for a scooter. You need to think carefully about how you will manoeuvre the vehicle about your home and you are responsible for any damage caused. Like any other electrical appliance, you must make sure it is safe to use.

You should read on to understand some of the risks associated with scooters and their safe storage.

I live in a flat – can I store my scooter in the communal hallway?

No. We do not allow the storage or charging of any items, including mobility scooters in any of our communal areas. This is because there is a serious fire risk created and we need to keep all communal areas free of items so they do not impede fast exit from a building in an emergency, or when visibility might be reduced due to smoke.

There are a small number of exceptions in some of our schemes for the elderly where there are designated storage areas – these include Phoenix Court and Chivenor House. These areas have undergone specialist works to prevent a fire from spreading and have frequent fire risk assessments to keep you safe. We also have a scooter storage room at Topcliffe House. If you store your scooter in one of these areas you may be asked to pay towards the costs of the electricity to charge your scooter.

You must get permission to store your scooter in one of these approved areas. Space is limited so you should not purchase a scooter until you have our permission in writing. We will never guarantee that there will always be a space available for you.

I already have a scooter, but have nowhere to store it – what can I do?

You will need to remove your scooter from the communal areas and find somewhere else to keep it. You should talk to your Neighbourhood Officer who will discuss with you some different options. If you genuinely need a scooter for medical reasons, they will ask you to contact Birmingham City Council for an occupational therapist report. This report may make recommendations that match your individual needs. If there are recommendations we will look to see if there are any other storage arrangements that we might be able to make available. Where we can, we will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate this, but you will need to meet the costs of these. We will look at each case individually.

We haven’t been able to find alternative storage – what are my options?

If your mobility problems are severe and you live somewhere with communal areas you might need to seriously consider if your home continues to meet your needs. If it does not, the Neighbourhood Officer will discuss your housing options with you. If an alternative home is available we may prioritise you for this if there is a supporting occupational therapist report, or we may help you access other housing options through the Council. We will try our best to work with you to find a solution.

What will happen if I store my scooter in a communal area and do nothing?

We will initially ask customers to remove any items from a communal area to keep the space safe. We have to do this by law, so we cannot exercise discretion when we know there is a risk.

If you don’t respond to us and work with us to find a solution, we will serve a legal notice, called a tort notice, giving you formal notice to move the items. If you don’t we will remove them and charge you the costs. If we store any items, you will have to pay the costs and we will dispose of any items in storage after a fixed period of time.

What are the risks of storing scooters in communal areas?

Mobility scooters involved in a fire can release large volumes of smoke and generate significant heat outputs. If mobility scooters are stored on escape routes and are involved in a fire, there is a potential that escape routes will become impassable and residents could be placed at significant risk in the event of a fire. Therefore, appropriate measures must be considered within the building fire risk assessment to address the risks posed by the storage and charging of mobility scooters.

Mobility scooters are generally constructed around a steel frame, with plastic fairings, rubber tyres, foam seats, wiring and batteries. They are often retro fitted with vehicle registration number plates, waterproof covers and storage bags.

The type of batteries used in mobility scooters are generally lead acid (wet cell) or sealed lead acid scooter batteries. Other battery types include Gel and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries.

The recent use of lithium iron phosphate (LiFeP04) batteries instead of lead acid batteries to power mobility scooters has increased risks due to their unpredictable and adverse reaction when subjected to fire. All batteries can give off hydrogen when charging.

Heat release rate

Research has shown that, within 3 minutes of ignition, the temperature of the mobility scooter reached 375°C. Between 5 and 8 minutes after ignition the compartment temperature rose from 54°C to 181°C and continued increasing to 214°C, after 8.5 minutes (with the mobility scooter itself reading 556°C).

In separate research, where several scooters are burning simultaneously, the fire is exacerbated by heat-feedback and the heat release rates in excess of 2.5MW can be achieved from two scooters. One scooter burned slowly for about 3 minutes before the second scooter became involved. The temperatures and heat release then rose rapidly and a substantial quantity of smoke was produced.

Toxic smoke

In tests, compartment fires involving mobility scooters show that the smoke layer within a 3m high room falls to 2m from the floor after just 3 minutes, and that thick black smoke extends to just 1m from the floor after 8 minutes. The smoke is dense and is given off in large quantities even at relatively low temperatures; filling compartments with toxic smoke, possibly before an occupier would notice the fire. The construction materials of some mobility scooters can produce large volumes of smoke more quickly than would normally be expected.


Given the speed of temperature rise and rapid volumetric smoke production, occupants would need to evacuate very quickly to escape unharmed. A fire in a mobility scooter that is being stored within common exit routes would render conditions untenable in less than 3 minutes. It is evident that a fire involving mobility scooters, within an escape corridor or stairwell, will create a substantial risk to occupants since the smoke and heat will make such routes impassable and put occupants at risk.

I don’t agree that you have asked me to remove my scooter – what are my options?

If you disagree with a decision we have made, you can ask us to review it. You should tell us the reasons why you think the decision was wrong and what you think the decision should be. If you disagree with the outcome, you can formally appeal it. Click here for information on our appeals procedure.