Why electric car fires are so hard to extinguish – and what to do to contain them
Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, electric cars use high-voltage lithium-ion batteries that contain flammable electrolytes. This makes electric car fires hard to extinguish. When an electric vehicle catches fire, the battery’s high voltage can create a phenomenon called thermal runaway, where the battery pack overheats and ignites other cells, leading to an intense and prolonged fire. This thermal runaway can release large amounts of heat, toxic gases, and chemical fumes that pose a severe risk to firefighters, who must be trained to use specific firefighting techniques and equipment to handle electric vehicle fires safely. Additionally, electric cars’ complex electrical systems and their proximity to water sources can pose an electrocution hazard, further complicating the firefighting process.
Putting out this kind of fire with water does not give the results we are used to from regular internal combustion engine cars. Namely, that they can be extinguished without using 10,000 gallons of water.
During live tests on burning EVs of our Fire Isolator concept, we saw that after a hefty jet of water, the fire seemed to extinguish for a while, but just as often flared up again. The only way that appeared to work in our tests was if the entire car was immersed in a container of water.
Changed purpose from extinguishing to collateral damage mitigation
As a result, the goal for firefighters will have to change from simply extinguishing the burning EV (with the battery in thermal runaway, if the battery does not burn it can be considered a regular car fire) to preventing collateral damage. This is what our Fire Isolator concept is for. And therefore not so much to immediately extinguish the fire 100% completely.
Preventing additional damage from an EV car fire with Fire Isolator
Because electric car fires are hard to extinguish, we created The Fire Isolator Concept. The FIRE⚡️ISOLATOR Concept consists of several tested and proven elements that, when used together, deliver the best results when fighting EV fires in car parks, garages, or on ferries:
1. The use of a high-temperature resistant car Fire Blanket (up to 1600 degrees C°, tested according to ISO EN 13501-1) in order to isolate and control the fire and prevent collateral damage. Note that a blanket alone will NOT kill the fire in the battery. It provides control of the situation.
2. The use of aerosol units, which interrupts the chemical chain reactions occurring in the flames and suppresses the fire resulting in further temperature reduction.
3. The use of a water mist lance to spray a water mist over the blanket in order to reduce toxic fumes and smoke and to keep the car cooled.
5. A dipping container in which the EV car needs to be submerged (for probably several days).
6. Training in this concept
Take the next step in fighting EV car fires
Contact us or our dealers today. We would be happy to teach you how our concept works and why we have already supplied thousands of Fire Isolator kits to firefighting companies, ferries, car carriers, parking garages, car dealers and car manufacturers worldwide.