Fire safety labels on e-cigs sought
Fire bosses have called for safety messages to be displayed on electronic cigarette kits following a surge of incidents linked to the devices.
Figures obtained by the Press Association earlier this month revealed that e-cigarettes or related equipment including chargers were involved in more than 100 fires in less than two years.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents all 46 fire authorities in England and Wales, said this could be the "tip of the iceberg" and warned many cases may be going unreported.
Many incidents are sparked by users connecting e-cigarettes to incompatible chargers and the LGA wants manufacturers to do more to warn of the dangers.
Possible measures could include placing prominent safety labels on products.
Jeremy Hilton, chairman of the LGA's Fire Services Management Committee, said: "The spiralling upward trend of fires connected with e-cigarettes is a major cause for concern and much more needs to be done to combat it.
"We expect this to continue to rise as more smokers switch to e-cigarettes.
"Alarmingly, there is no way of knowing the true figure as we understand many cases are going unreported.
"We are urging e-cigarette manufacturers to introduce clear, prominent and graphic new warnings spelling out to users the dangers of using incompatible chargers with e-cigarette batteries."
In August, David Thomson, 62, was killed when an e-cigarette on charge exploded and ignited oxygen equipment he was believed to have been using.
It was thought to be the first fatality from a fire involving an e-cigarette in Britain.
Other incidents have resulted in people being hurt, while there have been reports of users' homes being badly damaged
Mr Hilton warned more deaths could follow unless action is taken.
He said: "Tragically, at least one life has been claimed and more fatalities could follow unless this issue is addressed rigorously and robustly.
"We are warning users that it is simply not worth risking their lives to save a few pounds by buying dodgy, dangerous or incompatible chargers."
Data from 43 fire services provided following a freedom of information request showed that since 2012 they had attended 113 calls to fires related to e-cigarette equipment.
The figures indicated that brigades were attending incidents involving the technology, used by about 2.1 million Britons, at a rate of around one a week.
From the services that provided data, e-cigarettes were cited as being involved in eight fires in 2012, rising to 43 last year, while there have been at least 62 so far this year.
Emma Apter, of the charity Electrical Safety First, said: "We are becoming increasingly concerned about the number of incidents involving e-cigarettes.
"Recent events have shown that the simple act of charging one of these items can be deadly, so steps do need to be taken in order to make consumers more aware of the dangers.
"However, people can also help themselves in drastically reducing the risks. The advice is clear: do not use cheaper, unbranded chargers and do not leave e-cigarettes unattended whilst charging, especially overnight.
"By following this guidance, consumers can go a long way towards ensuring their own safety and that of their loved ones."