How to prevent electric vehicle fires

How to prevent Electric Vehicle Fires

Duluth fire leaders discuss the best way to prevent EV fires

There is no doubt electric vehicles are becoming more common here in the Northland.

However, as we start talking about fire prevention there are some things to remember if you own one or are in the market for one.

Electric vehicle fires can be very problematic for firefighters to fight when things go wrong.

Dan Lattner, the Assistant Chief at Duluth Fire says there has been a huge increase in electric vehicle fires across the country. He says those are oftentimes due to issues with the battery pack.

When those fires happen, Lattner says the fires can reach up to 5,000 degrees. Compared to a normal house fire, which can burn up to 2,000 degrees.

Some reports also say firefighters are using up to 10 times the amount of water to extinguish electrical vehicle fires, reaching close to 5,000 gallons.

Lattner says while there haven’t been any issues with electric vehicle fires here in the Northland just yet, there are multiple ways you can prepare yourself to make sure they don’t happen.

“Using compatible systems, using the right cord gauges, using the right chargers, that’s going to be the big difference.”

One thing that you might not consider when you charge your electric vehicle- making sure it has proper ventilation.

Lattner says that when issues arise with the battery pack in an electric vehicle, those packs can start off-gassing and release toxic fumes into the air.

He says it is important to have proper ventilation in place so that in the chance the battery pack does start off-gassing, those gasses can vent out rather than build up.

Those gasses are extremely flammable and can make explosions worse.

When this happens, Lattner says there is a key, distinct odor that occurs.

“One of the things we’re finding out there, a good warning sign if you have one of these, it’s been described as cherry bubblegum as the flavor. These Lithium-Ion batteries when they are off-gassing do give off a very strange odor and it smells like cherry bubblegum. It’s an electrical odor, masked by a real sweet fruity odor.” He says.

Firefighters also give this warning to owners of electric vehicles. When a fire does occur, their main tactic to fight it is to let the vehicle burn.

This is due to the cost of the replacement of the battery pack. Often times the cost of the replacement outweighs the value of the vehicle. The elevated risk in fighting electric vehicle fires as mentioned also plays a factor in letting the vehicle burn in their response.