Every year, more and more electric cars appear on our roads and highways. As the popularity of these vehicles grows, so do the risks they pose - to emergency responders as well as to the public.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), on which a TRAA representative serves, investigated four recent high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires in electric vehicles. Three of the fires erupted after high-speed, high-severity crashes. The fourth resulted from the internal failure of a battery during normal driving. Each case posed special challenges to emergency responders. The study concluded that vehicle manufacturer emergency response guides for emergency personnel are inadequate and gaps are present in safety standards and research-related to high-voltage, lithium-ion batteries involved in high-speed, high-severity crashes.
Where can emergency responders turn for information about high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires?
NFPA's Alternative Fuel Vehicles Training Program for Emergency Responders Online Training: TRAA has long promoted this online training course as its comprehensive, easily accessible, and inexpensive at only $25.95 USD. Click here for more information.
NFPA Field Guides: In the United States, responders can use the emergency field guide the NFPA publishes. They can also consult the emergency response guides that electric vehicle manufacturers produce. The guides are available from several sources, including the NFPA website, smartphone applications, and other commercial platforms.
NTSB's full report, called Safety Risks to Emergency Responders from Lithium-Ion Battery Fires in Electric Vehicles (NTSB/SR-20/01) is available on the NTSB website (www.ntsb.gov).