Electric cars, although less dangerous than thermal ones in the event of accidents, create new challenges for firefighters.
As we already know, in the event of an accident, an electric vehicle will catch fire much less easily than its thermal equivalent, which by definition has a tank of several tens of liters of fuel. But when the first is affected at the level of its battery, which requires a very serious impact, we can witness a phenomenon called thermal runaway where a vicious circle is formed: to sum up very roughly, the temperature increases, which releases energy, which increases the temperature. Moreover, even if a single cell can be affected, its heating can then activate that of its neighbors. And when this mechanism engages, it is then very difficult to interrupt it.
Misconception: Electric cars are dangerous
What is also very vicious is that this fire can smolder for several weeks before manifesting itself, as this damaged Tesla Model S recently showed which ignited three weeks after being scrapped in Sacramento.
Arrived on the spot, the local firefighters did not manage to extinguish it in a sustainable way with their conventional tools for more than an hour and had to improvise by digging a basin, filling it with water and then pulling the wreckage into it. to continuously lower the temperature of the components.
Photos of the pit the crews created… pic.twitter.com/BVnhxA2aOt
— Metro Fire of Sacramento (@metrofirepio) June 12, 2022
Manufacturers are actively working to create batteries that reduce the risk of thermal runaway, but, in the meantime, and with an electric market starting to be impressive, it is therefore up to firefighters to take up the challenge with innovative solutions, however rare these incidents may be.