Purchases of electric vehicles in Colorado are skyrocketing, with EV registrations in 2022 increasing by 822 percent since 2016. But some firefighters say they’ll need a lot more resources if these vehicles continue to arrive at this rate, since they do not yet know the best method to extinguish electric vehicle fires.
Firefighters have had more than a century to perfect the art of extinguishing a fire involving a gasoline-powered vehicle. However, these conventional methods are ineffective on electric vehicles because they operate on lithium-ion batteries rather than gasoline. Fires caused by lithium ion batteries are more difficult to extinguish, often reigniting several hours, days, or even a week later.
In April, a detonation occurred in the garage of a residence in Erie, Pennsylvania, bringing the concerns of Mountain View Fire Rescue to the forefront. The detonation dislodged a firefighter’s helmet and threw firefighters inside backwards.
It occurred after the householders called 911 after observing smoke emanating from their charging electric Jeep in the garage. Firefighters entered the building to investigate and inadvertently caused an explosion by spraying water on the smoke.
Saba reports that the fire is still under investigation, and the Jeep has been returned to the manufacturer for examination. According to him, the source of the vehicle’s smoking is still under investigation. Thankfully, nobody was injured.
State’s EV Plan Lacks Fire Safety Measures
Despite the fact that electric vehicle fires are much less common than conventional motor vehicle fires, they can be more hazardous due to a lack of knowledge about how to extinguish them.
During an investigation, fire investigators must also return these vehicles to the manufacturer, but some critics believe there should be more supervision of automakers conducting their own investigations.
By 2030, Governor Jared Polis would like to see 940,000 electric vehicles on the road. The state’s Electric Vehicle Plan for 2023 makes no mention of fires or emergency response.
Last year, the federal government awarded the Fire Protection Research Foundation a $1.18 million grant to finance a comprehensive study to determine the most effective methods for fighting EV fires. The study will not be completed until September 2024, which is more than a year away.
In the meantime, Saba requests that individuals monitor their electric vehicles and other devices with lithium ion batteries in order to help prevent these accidents.