Firefighters Voice Concern Over Electric Vehicle Fires

Electric Vehicles / Comments

They take a lot of water to extinguish.

The electric revolution is well and truly underway. Major manufacturers are spending billions of dollars on developing new battery technology, and even more on building new electric vehicles. While brands such as Tesla lead the crusade with the Model S and Model 3, other brands such as GMC are getting ready to revive classic names such as Hummer in the quest for electric dominance. These cars promise to reduce emissions and be eco-friendly in general, but according to some experts, electric cars pose a great danger to both firefighters, and our limited water supplies when they are involved in fire-causing accidents.

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According to CNBC, a recent accident involving a Tesla Model S required Houston firefighters to use up 28,000 gallons of water to extinguish flames that simply wouldn't go out. That's about as much water the average American uses in two years. Chief Palmer Buck of The Woodlands Township Fire Department in suburban Houston explained that the average vehicle fire takes only 300 gallons of water to extinguish.

The cause of these hard-to-kill fires lies in the lithium-ion battery packs that power these EVs. Damaged energy cells that catch fire burn at extremely high temperatures, and require an immense amount of water to put out. The IHS expects one in ten cars to be electric by 2025, which will place an enormous amount of pressure on firefighting authorities nationwide.

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2017-2021 Tesla Model S Front View Driving Tesla
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Firefighters across the nation have noted that manufacturers do not provide adequate information regarding electric fires and what is required to combat serious incidents. "The Tesla manuals only say to use copious amounts of water," he said. "They don't provide any direction as to how to remove that energy", says Fire Marshal Stephen Gollan.

Currently the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has trained close to 250,000 firefighters in the art of EV fires in the last 12 years, leaving nearly 80 percent of the nation's firefighters untrained. The matter of water availability is another major concern, especially in more arid regions.

Capt. Sean Doran, the spokesperson for the Orange County Fire Authority says that firefighters are trained to secure a water source before anything else: "One of the concepts in firefighting is don't start what you can't finish," he said. "We don't want to start applying water before we have a water source." This is a looming environmental disaster, and major manufacturers seem to be more concerned with charging times and electric range.

2017-2021 Tesla Model S Top View Tesla
2017-2021 Tesla Model S Rear View Driving Tesla
2017-2021 Tesla Model S Side View Tesla
Source Credits: CNBC

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