Emergency Preparedness Considerations for Electric Vehicles & Lithium-ion Batteries
Electric vehicles (EVs) and lithium-ion batteries indeed present unique challenges and considerations for emergency preparedness and response, particularly in the context of fire incidents. Here’s a summarised overview of the key points and recommendations:
- EVs can catch fire due to battery thermal runaway, typically after a severe collision or battery malfunction.
- Firefighters face challenges due to the need for specialised techniques and water-resistant extinguishing agents.
- EV fires can result in water pollution as large quantities of water are used to cool batteries, potentially contaminating nearby water sources.
PREVENTION & SAFETY MEASURES:
- Parking in designated spots away from exits is crucial for rapid emergency response and safe evacuation.
- New EVs may have hose connections for firefighters to introduce water to cool down the battery compartment.
FIRE SERVICE RESPONSE:
- Fire services evaluate EV fires, protect exposures, and may let the fire burn itself out if no further risks or exposures exist.
- In a car park scenario, asset protection and stopping the spread are priorities.
- Occupants are generally discouraged from fighting the fire due to safety concerns.
- Any extinguishing agent must be applied directly to the battery pack to slow down the burn.
- Emergency Services consider the fire out when the battery temperature is 30°C or less for at least 60 minutes.
CHALLENGES FOR FIREFIGHTERS:
- Lithium-ion battery failures pose significant risks, including toxic smoke, rapid fire spread, and a fire duration of over 4 hours.
- Sufficient ventilation and ongoing water cooling are crucial during battery fire incidents.
Overall, these measures aim to enhance safety, response efficiency, and minimise environmental impact in the event of EV-related incidents.
Committed to setting the standard when it comes to emergency response preparedness, F5M emergency management manuals now incorporate processes and procedures for responding to lithium-ion battery related emergencies. Have you considered updating your emergency plan to manage these distinct risks? Our team of specialists are on hand to help work through these factors with you.