DEARBORN, Mich. – Fire departments nationwide are in training as they learn how to put out fires for electric vehicles.
But an EV fire is a dramatically different and far more dangerous problem for them.
The automakers have been training fire departments on how to cope with EV fires. But when the fires reach what’s known as “Thermal runaway,” firefighters realize they have one next-level hot and frightening conflagration on their hands.
Such instances occurred last February in a Ford Dearborn lot after one charging F-150 Lightning burned, setting two others next to it on unquenchable fire.
Dearborn’s fire department isn’t commenting on the fire, but Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John Leroy knows firsthand the problem.
“We just know that it’s going to need a lot more water, whereas opposed in the past, a simple car fire, we could fight it with one tank of water on a truck, however now, these EVs, we know we are going to hook to a fire hydrant to put it out,” said Leroy.
Of course, our highways aren’t lined with fire hydrants, which means letting the vehicle burn itself out.
Leroy says they would put a chain onto the firetruck’s bumper and pull it away from anything else that could burn.
“The biggest problem is not just moving it to a place where it can combust by itself and not spread somewhere else,” Leroy said.
More disconcerting if EVs burn inside a garage like what happened in Bloomfield Township last month, then Leroy’s fire department would immediately call in all the available Metro Detroit help they could get when they learned an EV sat inside with three other gasoline-filled vehicles.
“Until the product is totally consumed, they will continue to possibly flare up until all of the heat is removed from the battery itself, and it’s very difficult the way these batteries are located in order to get enough water onto the battery to do it,” Leroy said.
Ford ended up recalling 18 vehicles after the fire. They had an issue with the Georgia battery plant where the batteries are made.
The company says the problem is fixed, but we will continue to see EV fires causing issues in many ways as the adoption increases.