Uneven training for interventions during electric vehicle fires

Uneven training for interventions during electric vehicle fires
Uneven training for interventions during electric vehicle fires

In Saint-François-de-la-Rivière-du-Sud, currently, no firefighter has yet been trained to intervene on fires involving an EV. “In collaboration with other municipalities in the MRC of Montmagny, we presented a request to the regional prevention officer so that he organizes training on this subject. We will then assemble groups of firefighters to dispense it,” explains Jean-Claude Gaudet, general director of the municipality. The dates of this are not yet known. Mr. Gaudet explains that his fire department has not yet encountered this type of intervention, but that it will inevitably happen in the future and that he must prepare for it.

“All members of the Service [de la sécurité incendie de la ville de Montmagny] have received training on intervention techniques related to a fire declared in an EV, while all firefighters who have training in extrication have been trained to intervene in an accident involving an EV and requiring extrication” , says Sylviane Lord, communications advisor for the organization. She states that it focuses on intervention techniques that not only provide responders with the required knowledge relating to health and safety, but also the skills necessary for interventions involving an EV. She adds that the team remains on the lookout for developments in health and safety and intervention techniques and will continue to train the brigades according to the evolution of technologies and recommended standards.

According to Stéphane Dubé, director of the La Pocatière intermunicipal fire safety service which serves the municipality of Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, “Half of our firefighters and all of our officers have followed the fire safety training program. speakers during interventions involving electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles from the National Firefighters School of Quebec. This is a 10 hour training course. » He specifies that this concerns the risks relating to electricity, the characteristics of EVs and the intervention methods to adopt when they catch fire. Such an event has not yet occurred on its territory.

Rare fires, but intense and almost impossible to put out

Although the risk of fire from lithium-ion batteries that power EVs is less than 0.1% according to the American organization Insurance EZ, these are particularly rapid and intense. According to Catherine Dicaire, chemist at Origin Enquêtes technico-legale: “A lithium-ion battery can undergo thermal runaway which will quickly produce a large quantity of heat. It will suddenly release all the stored electrical energy and flammable vapors which will ignite, creating a fireball.” Temperatures can then reach more than 1000 degrees Celsius.

According to the Emergency Response Guide published by EV manufacturer Tesla, up to 3,000 gallons (11,356 liters) of water are required to cool and extinguish a burning lithium-ion battery. It can take up to 24 hours to extinguish and it is recommended to simply let it burn completely on its own, while protecting the areas at risk around it. Even after being extinguished for more than an hour, it can flare up again at any time. Therefore, it must be stored in an open space.

78% increase in sales

As of September 30, 2023, Quebec had 200,487 electric vehicles (EV) on its roads, according to the Société d’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ), which represented 3.75% of the province’s automobile fleet. Their sales have literally exploded over the last year to reach 57,518 units, or nearly 20% of all new registrations, an increase of 78% compared to 32,231 in 2022. Also, the government of Quebec has the objective that 1.6 million of these will be on our roads by 2030.

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