Electric car and battery fires on the rise in St. George raise 'new issues' for firefighters - St. George News

Electric car and battery fires on the rise in St. George raise ‘new issues’ for firefighters – St. George News

Street. George – Electric battery fires are on the rise, said Robert Stocker, St. George’s Chief Fire Officer, igniting an issue that’s been problematic for first responders.

FILE: St. George Fire Chief Robert Stocker talks about recent spike in electric battery fires and safety tips, St. George, Utah, Oct. 22, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“Over the past two months, there has been a significant increase in fires from electric vehicle batteries and smaller lithium batteries,” Stocker said.

This increase indicates an ongoing problem with electric vehicle fires that has sparked a national discussion about the risks to first responders and those on the scene.

The debate first began in 2011 when a Chevy Volt caught fire during a test run. The problem surfaced again around 2017 as electric cars became more prevalent on US roads.

Last April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened Investigation In more than 138,000 vehicles with batteries produced by LG Energy Solution in South Korea.

The investigation began after five major automakers recalled vehicles because batteries failed, causing fires and stalling.

On January 13, 2021, the Safety Department of A.J press release that lithium-ion batteries pose dangers to first responders.

“Risks of electric shock and battery ignition/fire arise from ‘locked’ energy that remains in a damaged battery,” the press release reads.

New recommendations from state and national safety organizations suggest letting the vehicle burn while preventing the fire from spreading to nearby objects and locations.

“There’s still a lot of training and research out there, and there are different recommendations on how to put out an electric car fire,” Stocker said. “According to Tesla, their recommendation is to use large amounts of water with a recommendation of 3,000 to 8,000 gallons of water being put directly on the battery.”

Tesla representatives and the car Safety guide After the fire is over, we recommend that you continue to immerse the battery in water for at least 30 minutes and monitor it for 24 hours.

FILE: Electric Vehicle Fires Presented “New” Issues for First Responders, St. George, Utah, July 29, 2022 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

“But we recently discovered that we use 30,000-60,000 gallons of water to put out an electric car fire,” he said.

This presents a “new problem” for the firefighters as their unit carries 75,000 gallons of water. The fire department has to request assistance from other units.

On November 1st, St. George firefighters were dispatched to an electric motorcycle that recharged and lit. The owner of the scooter told the firefighters that he had started the fire with an extinguisher. However, the fire intensified instead of going out.

“A fire extinguisher is generally used as a starting point or starting point for a fire,” Stocker said, adding that most extinguishers use a dry chemical to take oxygen out of the fire, but it does not cool the fire.

The problem they find, he said, is that lithium-ion electric batteries run very hot, which means that when the chemical dissipates, the oxygen returns and may catch fire.

Tesla also recommends that you do not use any “foaming” or “submerging” the vehicle.

Besides the November 1 fire, another fire occurred on October 13 at community over 55 At Dixie Downs Road, an electric bike has been charged. The battery overheats, causing a fire.

Stocker said many of the smaller battery fires could have been prevented by taking precautionary steps.

As for the tiny batteries, which are found in things like e-bikes, scooters, and remote-control cars, he said he never leaves them unattended. Charge them in places like the garage or outside, away from anything flammable, such as carpeting, which has been a problem in recent reported fires where batteries or charged items were left on carpet.

Photo of electric lithium batteries at the electric scooter fire site, St. George, Utah, November 1, 2022 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

He said the cargo area should also be in a well-ventilated area away from combustible materials.

If the flaming item is attached to the wall, it is best to turn off the circuit breaker and then use water on the fire.

“If you have any questions, it’s best to get out of the house and call 911,” Stocker said.

For electric vehicle fires, Stocker said everyone should get out of the vehicle and find a distance where other features in the vehicle, such as airbags, could explode.

He added, “Don’t go back for anything, like a cell phone.”

Once you are away from the vehicle and safe from oncoming traffic, call 911.

“What helps is telling us the type of fire, like if an electric car is on,” he said. “Then we can get the help and resources we need.”

All electric and hybrid vehicles come with manuals with specific sections of the guidelines for fires. Stocker said operators should review these guidelines, as electric batteries are a new problem with different recommendations.

“It’s not an ordinary fire,” he said.

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