Bay Area Firefighters Trained on How to Respond to Highway EV Accidents
According to California data, one in five new cars purchased in the state is an electric vehicle (EV). With more electric cars on our roads nowadays, there is a high chance of one being involved in a collision or catching fire.
That’s why Bay Area firefighters recently participated in a training session on responding to electric vehicle accidents and highway fires. The hands-on training, held by General Motors, took place at the Alameda County fairgrounds in Pleasanton in early February 2023.
The goal is to train on best practices and get a firsthand look at the batteries and all their electrical components to assess where the dangers are.
General Motors Provided the Training Resources
General Motors used its electric vehicles for training in anticipation and preparation for high-voltage-related accidents. Several EVs involved in a crash test or destroyed by fire were displayed at the training site. It’s part of the automaker’s effort to equip first responders with knowledge and resources to respond safely.
Oakland Fire Department Captain Edward Guerrero said they should have done this training years ago. Guerrero said fighting electric vehicle fires is more dangerous, especially when dealing with more electricity voltage. He said it is essential to train and adapt to the new technology.
The Dangers of Electric Vehicle Fires
Car experts said when an electric vehicle catches fire, the blaze will burn for much longer and much hotter. While using more water is recommended to fight an electric battery fire, they said it is challenging to get an appropriate amount on highways because there are no hydrants.
The City of Oakland has added two additional water tenders to battle highway fires. However, fire experts said other techniques could also prove effective, such as letting the fire burn out or eliminating different fire sources.
Firefighters are learning different areas to disconnect the 12-volt batteries and know their dangers. Since emergency calls are unpredictable, fire experts said this training is a step toward safety.
Although there is no public data on an accurate number of electric vehicle crashes and fires each year, fire experts say the training is crucial and gives them a chance to improve a bad situation.
How Common are Electric Vehicle Fires?
The good news is electric vehicle battery fires don’t happen too often. While researchers still need more data to determine the EV fire rate conclusively, preliminary studies show that electric car fires are rare.
Initial studies indicated that battery electric vehicles have a .03 percent chance of igniting, compared to 1.5 percent for gasoline-fueled engine vehicles. Hybrid cars have a 3.4 percent chance of fires.
However, when electric vehicles catch fire, they burn faster, are hotter, and require more water to extinguish due to their lithium-ion batteries. In addition, the batteries can re-ignite hours or days after the fire has been controlled, leaving repair shops, salvage yards, and anything nearby at risk.
Lithium-ion batteries are filled with a flammable liquid electrolyte, with electrodes placed close together, which can increase the chances of a short.
Watch the YouTube video below to learn why electric vehicle fires are challenging.
Types of Electric Car Battery Fires
The most common type of electric vehicle battery fire occurs after the car batteries have been damaged or the vehicle was involved in an accident. In recent years, automakers have strengthened battery protection to reduce the safety risks in an electric car after a collision.
Another type of electric vehicle fire occurs when the car is charging, which is the case with recent EV fires that resulted in safety recalls. Investigators found that the affected battery cells had a manufacturing defect that increased fire risks during charging.
Fremont Personal Injury Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a Fremont Personal Injury Lawyer. Electric vehicle fires can lead to severe burn injuries and wrongful death. If you have been hurt in an electric vehicle accident, call our experienced legal team at (510) 631-0200 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
Our injury attorneys at AutoAccident.com have helped Fremont and Northern California residents obtain fair and just compensation since 1982. See our proven track record of successful Verdicts and Settlements.
Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash
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