UK issues campus-wide hoverboard ban over fire concerns

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Hoverboards have become popular across the country and were a hot gift for Christmas, but University of Kentucky officials are now telling students to leave them at home when they return to campus for classes. UK issued on Wednesday a campus-wide temporary ban for the self-balancing skateboards, claiming they can pose a fire hazard.

The ban prohibits the use, possession or storage of hoverboards at any building on campus or any other university-controlled property, according to a news release from UK. The university is among a growing list of other universities, organizations and companies - including and major airlines - to ban the hoverboards amid a federal investigation into the devices bursting into flames.

Having hoverboards on campus is simply not worth the risk to people or property, UK Fire Marshal Greg Williamson told WKYT's Garrett Wymer. Administrators and university officials began discussing a ban as national and international concerns about the electronic skateboards began to grow, Williamson said.

"When you look at it, you have the city of New York - you can't ride these things in the city of New York. When you have the United Kingdom saying they're banning them," Williamson said, "I mean, it shows you that this is something that is not just a knee-jerk reaction. It's something that is very concerning to us. And the statistics have shown we're going to have a fire with one of these things.

"Somebody's going to have a fire with one of these things," he said. "And I don't want it to be the University of Kentucky."

The ban will remain in effect until more information and better safety standards are in place, the university's news release stated. The fire marshal's office will temporarily store hoverboards for students who have them on campus and cannot get them home safely, Williamson said.

The fire marshal would not disclose where his office would store the hoverboards, but he did say the location would be on campus.

Classes for UK's spring semester begin January 13, but students on campus Wednesday had mixed reactions to the ban.

Myles Gibson, a sophomore at UK, said he got his hoverboard in September to help him get to class. What was a 15-minute walk now takes him five to 10 minutes on his hoverboard, Gibson said. Gibson told WKYT's Garrett Wymer that he is upset he will have to leave his hoverboard at home, but he says he understands why UK is banning them.

"I wish it was different," he said. "I wish there was maybe a way we could work around it, but [I understand that it's] for the better of everyone that the ban be put in place."

It is unclear exactly what punishment that students, faculty or staff might face for violating the ban. In an email Wednesday evening responding to a request for clarification, a representative from UK Public Relations told WKYT that students would be accountable to the university's student code of conduct, and employees would be addressed through human resources disciplinary policies.


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The University of Kentucky issued a temporary ban on all hoverboards on campus Wednesday.

The ban includes the use, possession and storage of hoverboards in residence halls, Greek houses, university apartments and all academic buildings, according to a news release from UK.

The ban also requires that students, faculty and staff at the university leave their hoverboards at an off-campus location.

The news release says the temporary ban is due to safety concerns after reports of faulty batteries in the device bursting into flames.

"These devices have caused numerous fires throughout the nation and the potential fire risk that they pose to people and property. We are not willing to risk your safety and our community’s safety,” UK Fire Marshal Greg Williamson said .

According to the news release the ban will remain into effect until UK receives more information on the safety standards of all models of the device.

Until then, temporary storage will be provided to students who already have hoverboards on campus, with no other way to store them.

Students who need temporary storage can call UK's Fire Marshall office at 859-257-6326.

News release: UK Issues Temporary Ban on Hoverboards Due to Safety Risks

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 6, 2016) — Based upon University of Kentucky safety standards and recent instances of batteries from electronic skateboards and self-balancing devices bursting into flames, all hoverboards and similar devices are temporarily banned on campus, effective immediately.

All students, faculty and staff must leave these devices at an off-campus location.

This ban prohibits the use, possession, or storage at residence halls, university apartments, Greek houses, academic buildings, all other campus buildings, campus grounds, and other off-campus properties controlled by the university effective immediately.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a strong warning and also highlighted the fact that an investigation into burning hoverboards is ongoing. Major U.S. airlines have also banned hoverboards on flights due to safety concerns. On Dec. 14, 2015, stopped selling hoverboards due to emerging safety concerns. Several SEC schools — including Arkansas, LSU, and Vanderbilt — have banned the devices. Numerous other campuses and organizations have also banned these devices.

"We are temporarily banning hoverboards and similar devices due to the fact that these devices have caused numerous fires throughout the nation and the potential fire risk that they pose to people and property. We are not willing to risk your safety and our community's safety," said UK Fire Marshal Greg Williamson.

Batteries within these devices have been reported to burst into flames — especially while being charged — resulting in a metal fire that can burn with intense heat. To date, a number of shipping companies, airlines, and colleges and universities have temporarily banned these devices.

The ban will remain in effect until more information and better safety standards for all models of the equipment are in place to protect UK students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors from the potential threat of fire.

As students, faculty and staff return to campus after the holiday season, they are encouraged to remember that campus safety is a community responsibility. Everyone is asked be aware of the fire risks — and be mindful of life safety of others — by not introducing potential hazards to our community.

For students who already have hoverboards on campus and cannot get them home safely, UK has made arrangements to provide temporary storage. If you live on campus and have such a device and need assistance with temporary storage, please contact the UK Fire Marshal's office at ‪(859) 257-6326 or speak with your residence hall staff.

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