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Half of Fire Departments Are Unprepared for Electric-Car Fires

screen shot 2020 10 10 at 10 38 25 am


National Fire Safety Association via YouTube

  • The National Transportation Safety Board says the U.S. is sadly unprepared to deal with EV fires.
  • Fifty-one percent of fire departments do not train for EV fires, and half say there are no special protocols for dealing with EVs after an accident. report Met.
  • Note the warnings. There are more than 29,000 fire departments in the United States. Only 32 of them were asked for this survey.

    If you have read Cars and drivers You may recall that the NTSB was investigating the Tesla Model S fire in 2013 or the Tesla fire in 2019.

    You remember them because electric vehicles are making headlines. In fact, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there were an average of 171,500 highway fires in the U.S. each year from 2014 to 2016, most of which occurred on gasoline-powered cars. Even so, electric vehicles are still a shining new thing to many, and when something goes wrong with them, we see. Automakers are building safety systems in their battery packs, including fast release in the event of an accident, but gas is still powered by gas-powered vehicles.

    That is why a new report from the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) has alarming data. Most importantly, half of the U.S. Fire Department is not ready to deal with an electric vehicle fire. In fact, 31 percent said their firefighters had no special training in dealing with hybrids or electric vehicles. Half said there was no post-crash protocol to deal with hybrids or electric vehicles.

    This is important because different types of fires require different strategies and a combustible gas tank is not the same as burning lithium-ion battery cell bags. The USFA says EV fires “can exceed 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit” and that “water or foam can explode violently as water molecules separate into explosive hydrogen and oxygen gases.” There is also a risk of electric shock and toxic fumes in an electric vehicle fire that does not exist in a petrol fire or at least does not occur in the same way. Therefore, as the number of EVs in the United States increases, it is important to train first responders to safely extinguish an EV fire. NTSB says this is yet to happen.

    Despite the alarming tone of the NTSB report, there are a number of reasonable warnings to consider. First, the NTSB report is based on a survey of 32 fire departments. The USFA says there are an estimated 29,705 U.S. fire departments in 2018, and this is nowhere to be found in the representative sample.

    Second, the NTSB does not say where unprepared fire departments are, but it is logical to assume that preparing for an EV fire is of less importance to a firefighter in rural North Dakota, California. As EVs become more common throughout the country, we can expect more fire department training.

    There seems to be some discrepancy in the survey results. For example, “What kind of training are currently being provided to your respondents for hybrid electric / electric vehicles?” Ten respondents said they had no such training. But for the next question, what tools do departments use for this type of training, all 32 said they use at least one type of training tool. Both of these things cannot be true.

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    Despite these warnings, we can still learn something from this NTSB report, which means that first responders need to be taught how to deal safely with electric vehicle fires. There are new tools to help keep firefighters safe, including a “hot stick” that can detect AC or DC current. As shown in the video above, the National Fire Safety Association reports that firefighters are using new technologies for firefighting equipment, such as lifting a fire truck. This allows water to reach the entire battery pack. In the water. Also, most importantly, there are training protocols that should be used.

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