With an increasing number of EVs on the roads in New Jersey comes a new issue for the state’s fire departments: putting out fires caused by EVs.
“primarily because of the way these cars burn, the lithium battery packs, they burn incredibly hot,” says Richard Mikutsky, New Jersey’s state fire marshal and director of the state’s division of fire safety.
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He explained that electric vehicles can go into thermal runaway far before they actually catch fire.
If the cells are damaged in an accident, they are more likely to misfire and catch fire.
Highly Flammable and Difficult-to-control Flames
According to Mikutsky’s research, “they have taken these automobiles and they have immersed them in large dumpsters full of water for hours, brought them out, and they rekindle.”
Due to the tremendous temperature and the fact that a lithium ion battery contains numerous cells, a fire might last for hours.
Lithium burns to the skin and lungs and electric shocks of up to 400 volts aren’t the only risks.
It takes hours of constant watering, he explained, but that’s the only way to put out an EV fire now.
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This is No Ordinary Automobile Fire.
You can’t put out one of these fires the way you would a regular blaze. They’re able to hold and increase their temperature as they burn.
According to Mikutsky, it takes about 600 to 700 gallons of water to put out a fire in a conventional gasoline-powered automobile, whereas 30,000 gallons of water is sometimes needed to put out an EV car fire.
He said that in order to have a steady supply of water, “you have to tap into a permanent water supply,” either through a city’s hydrant system or, in our more rural areas, by drawing water from a lake.