How to extinguish electric vehicles fire? | Step-by-step Video Guide

The risk of fire on electric vehicles is comparatively low; Battery management systems (BMS) inside the electric vehicles continuously monitor and regulates all the possible causes of fire. In case of any issue that can induce fire, these BMS completely cuts-off the battery power from the high-voltage components and cables of the car.

As a pre-read, you may want to check this article:Are electric vehicles safe in case of crash & fire ?. , which briefly explains, what creates EV fire, how do the internal circuits and batteries of an EV react in the event of an accident? How high is the risk of a fire in electric vehicles? As a driver what should you do to prevent fire accident?.

Prevention apart, just in case if fire catches on Li-ion batteries, putting it off could be quite challenging. Fire on Li-Ion batteries are hazardous and should be attempted ONLY by the professional fire fighters.

Below are the common steps followed by the specialist fire fighters across the world. Brock Archer - former Assistant Fire Chief of Hopland and California State’s Fire Training Instructor explains the steps via this video.



Step #1. Identification of Vehicle

Different electric vehicles, especially the plug-in hybrids which contain a gasoline tank alongside Li-ion batteries, require different extinguishing methods. In most cases, the rescue team can easily identify the type of vehicle, but this is the very first important step.

Step #2: Locate the battery of the electric car

In most cases, Battery will be the main source of fire, thus it is It’s important locate the exact location of the battery and to apply water directly on the battery in order to effectively cool it.

Step #3: Cool the battery hotspots

Fire fighters use thermal imaging cameras to inspect the temperatures at different areas of the battery pack; and find out the most heated areas (called as “hotspots”). Then, they point out the water stream directly on all the hotspots to cool them off.

How the heat and fire spread through a battery varies dramatically. Architecture of the battery pack, how the manufacturer has arranged the battery cells together, age of the battery, how the battery caught fire and many other factors decide the temperature and spread of fire. Depends on the severity, there can be need for water from a 500 and 30,000 litres of water.

A long continuous stream of water applied to the case of the battery is the most effective way to reduce the temperature within the battery and limit thermal runaway. Once the battery is completely cooled down, the fire is down.

Step#4: Monitor battery temperature & smoke for min. of next 45 minutes

Once the fire disappears visually and smoke too put off, the fire fighters use the thermal imaging camera again to continually monitor the temperature of battery pack for 45 minutes, until to be fully sure that the fire is off.

The operation continues until the vehicle did not react reignite at any point after the testing. Once the battery temperature has been reduced to approximately the outside ambient temperature and that temperature has been maintained without the application of water again for 45 minutes, the firefighting crew is ready to release the vehicle to second responders including law enforcements.

The fire fighters also help to educate second responders on the proper storage and transport of the vehicle. The vehicle should be kept 50 feet away from any exposures wherever it's being stored this is because there's always a chance of re-ignition days or hours after the incident.

Hope this video helps to understand what to expect in case of an electric vehicle fire. It is indeed challenging to put off fire from the EV batteries, but it is not impossible as many media reports and there is a well-structured process and trained professionals are in place all over the world.

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