Electric Cars are Prone to Catching Fire Following a Crash
According to an online article at readingeagle.com, when a Tesla Model S collided with a tree and caught fire outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, emergency personnel engaged in a struggle to put out the flames because the car continued to reignite several times. Accounts of electric vehicles catching on fire have arisen in Florida, California and globally, specifically in Austria, Belgium and China.*
While electric vehicles save gas and are great for commuting, the new technology is causing safety challenges. According to those researching the issues, lithium-ion batteries pose threats of fire due to what is known as “thermal runway,” a process where the battery temperatures significantly increase to the point where they catch on fire or even explode.
According to a survey of fire departments in the Detroit, Michigan area, most fire fighters lack experience with putting out electric car fires. As a result, they are engaging in training, which includes using mobile and online resources to come up with strategies to extinguish lithium ion battery fires in electric vehicles.
Per the Rochester Mills, Michigan chief and the National Fire Protection Association, they have been putting together training programs for fire departments that address alternative fuel vehicle safety, which is considered the “best practices” in the industry.
These best practices include the following:
- Finding the location of the vehicle’s power source and breaching the casing/boxes.
- Using significant amounts of water to cool down the lithium ion battery, in addition to using more conventional methods of extinguishing flames, such as using foam.
- Keeping the vehicle away from structures following the incident given the hazards associated with reignition of the flames.
According to the Auburn Hills, Assistant Chief, “a big part of responding to roadway accidents is recognizing the vehicle and knowing where to access and how to cut the car’s power source.”
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