The firefighters are still learning how to put out EV fires. What you should know to be safe is as follows.
First responders are at risk from electric vehicle fires, according to U.S. safety investigators, and manufacturers’ safety protocols are insufficient. Orange County Sheriff’s Department: It takes more effort to put out EV fires.
Even when your car dries up, water damage can still start a fire.
Damage to the battery might result from even a little collision.
Firefighters have long faced danger and difficulty while responding to car fires, but the highly flammable substances found in electric car batteries are creating new difficulties.
Comparable to internal combustion engine gasoline tanks, the massive lithium-ion batteries that power electric automobiles present a considerable fire risk. However, these fires are more difficult to put out because of a few significant peculiarities.
The potential for “thermal runaway,” in which an EV battery enters a cycle of overheating and overpressurization, resulting in fires and even explosions, is one significant distinction. These strong fires are affecting ships that carry electric vehicles (EVs), severely damaging parking garages, and in certain situations, even resulting in broad recalls.
These risky runaways can be caused by residual energy in an EV battery, even after the fire seems to have been put out.
According to Brian O’Connor, a technical services engineer for the National Fire Protection Association, “Even though it looks pretty much like a plastic tank on the ground, those batteries are made up of thousands of these small battery cells, and all it takes is one of them to reignite the fire.”
This week, O’Connor gave advice on what to do in the event of an electric car fire. This is what he said.
After a flood, never start an EV.
Before turning your electric car back on, O’Connor advised having it hauled and inspected by a mechanic if it has been flooded or passed through deep water. According to him, water trapped in the battery might still result in a short circuit and ignite a fire, even if your automobile seemed to have dried out.
According to O’Connor, significant flooding caused by hurricanes this year made this a special problem in Florida.
“After the flooding receded or dried out, people would say, ‘Oh, let me see if my car works,'” he explained. “Because there was still water in the batteries, the vehicles short-circuited and started a fire.”
Check your batteries following an accident, even if it’s just a little collision.
According to O’Connor, collision-related damage can result in an EV short-circuiting and catching fire, in addition to water damage. No matter how small the accident, it’s advisable to have a professional inspect your batteries.
“If a battery gets crushed at all, that can cause a short-circuit,” O’Connor explained. It’s difficult to determine what kind of collision will harm the battery more—a minor fender-bender could destroy it, but a major collision most certainly will. It’s safer to simply have it examined.
Give first responders as much information as possible.
In order to help first responders and the dispatcher put out an electric vehicle battery fire as efficiently as possible, it’s vital to provide them with as much information about the vehicle as you can when you call 911.
According to O’Connor, it’s critical to first establish that the fire is coming from an electric car and then to provide the make and model information, as first responders frequently have access to manufacturer response manuals.
“There might be high-voltage wires that go through different parts of the car, the batteries might be located in different places—all these things help inform the first responders about how to best tackle the fire,” he stated.
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