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7-19-18

Dangers of Electric Vehicle Battery Fires –Training for Florida fire departments


Post crash remains of Tesla Model S at storage yard. Battery caught on fire twice after initally being extinguished.
-Photo Courtesy NTSB


Staff Reports


A safety alert has been issued for Florida firefighters and fire service professionals regarding the highly combustible lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles such as in Tesla or Chevrolet Volt vehicles by the Florida State Fire Marshal. The office was directed to offer a training course for Florida fire departments to help our first responders better understand how lithium-ion battery fires should be handled.



Although electric batteries aren’t necessarily more prone to fire than gasoline, these kinds of vehicle fires are different from gasoline fires -



A National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) report on the vehicle accident in Fort Lauderdale involving a Tesla this last May, found that the battery reignited twice in the aftermath of the crash.



The Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue Department arrived at the crash scene and found the Tesla fully engulfed in flames. They extinguished the vehicle fire using 200–300 gallons of water and foam. Small portions of the lithium-ion high-voltage battery had separated from the vehicle, and—though there was no visible fire—they applied water and foam to the debris. During the loading of the car for removal from the scene, the battery reignited and was quickly extinguished. Upon arrival at the storage yard, the battery reignited again. A local fire department responded to the storage yard and extinguished the fire.



According to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2017, 16,116 electric vehicles were registered in Florida and 231,015 electric and gas hybrids.



Patronis said, “New technology helps us live our lives more efficiently, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t understand and tackle the risks that can be associated. Our fire departments around the state should be equipped with the latest information on how to best manage electric vehicle fires so that they can do their job safely and effectively. It’s important that firefighters and fire service professionals are aware of the following potentially life-saving practices when dealing with electric vehicle fires.”



Identify the make and model of vehicle so that they know where the battery is located and how to best shut down the vehicle if possible.



  Be prepared to use more than just water for electric vehicle fires, and note that fires could also be burning inside one of the protective compartments, invisible to the first responder.


Be aware of the possibility that a lithium-ion battery fire could reignite. If not entirely discharged, the stored energy inside the battery could cause a second or even third fire.



  Keep electric vehicles that have been in an accident away from buildings or other structures because of the possibility of re-ignition.



Understand that electric vehicles are silent and may still be on even if it’s not audible. The voltage from the vehicle could shock a first responder.



Always wear self-contained breathing apparatuses when fighting and overhauling a lithium-ion battery fire as some vehicles can emit toxic vapors.


For more information, please visit https://www.myfloridacfo.com or the Department on Facebook.