Automotive Porsche Taycan Burnt

Published on March 13th, 2024 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Are Malaysian Fire Fighters Ready For Electric Car Fires

Rapid adoption of electric cars across the U.S. leaves little time for fire departments to adapt to electric car fires

That’s the message members of a House Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight took from witnesses at a hearing devoted exclusively to electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries and first responders.

Porsche Taycan Burnt

This from a recent statement. As San Bernardino County (California) Fire Department Chief Dan Munsey urged, administrators must make training programs a top budget and planning priority in part because standard training does not cover the unique risks of Li-ion battery fires in EVs.

Munsey reported that every one of his 2,500 firefighters gets over 16 hours of instruction on electrical hazards, explosion potential, toxic exposure, fire suppression challenges, and the more unique aspects of EV fires.

Hands-on experience is essential, but the new burden will cost fire departments billions nationwide, Munsey emphasized. Clearly worried about how growing EV use will tax fire departments, Munsey added, “we are not ready as a whole” to handle the potential scale of EV-related incidents.

Currently no data demonstrates whether standard firefighter gear adequately protects against toxic Li-ion battery smoke and fumes, creating dangerous unknowns from more well-known carcinogens and potential lung damage that pose major cancer risks.

As UL Research Institutes Vice President Dr. Judy Jeevarajan testified, new materials research is vital, but departments must still implement extensive gear decontamination after any battery fire response.

Porsche Taycan Burnt

A few more pointers for first-due arrivals emerged from the testimony:

  • Approach from upwind to avoid inhaling emissions;
  • Use thermal imaging cameras to identify invisible hot spots;
  • Employ lots of water; flooding batteries is often the only way to extinguish and cool them; and
  • Carefully consider letting a battery burn itself.

By the way, in early March 2024 in a TV interview, a representative from Bomba Malaysia advised electric car owners not to charge their electric cars during rain.

In addition to that, he also said that electric car owners should make sure to plug-out the charging connector once they are done charging to avoid any mishaps. Does this make sense or not. Comments appreciated.

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