Climate Change: managing the operational impact on fires and other weather-related emergencies
Our Inspection Findings - 4.3 Other Issues - Emerging Risks - Electric Vehicles and Lithium-ion batteries
136. As the number of electric vehicles increases, the technology to support such vehicles present new hazards. This requires the FRS to explore new concepts and procedures to allow effective response to such incidents.
137. The motor repair and service industry has had to adapt practices in respect of electric vehicles, including fire precautions arrangements.
138. Due to their efficiency, lithium-ion battery cells are used to power electric vehicles. If damaged, for example during a road traffic collision, a damaged battery cell can produce a fire which can repeatedly flare up. A fire involving lithium-ion battery cells can cause an explosion hazard, typically gives off toxic gases and can take up to twenty four hours to extinguish.
139. The Service has trialled equipment for dealing with fires involving electric vehicles but does not have a procedure on how to deal with fires involving lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles.
140. There are databases available to first responders which provide useful information on vehicle construction and safety data. We referenced this information in a 2019 inspection report.25 This type of information is not available on the OI tablet. If this information was available to crews responding to incidents involving electric vehicles, it would assist in safely planning and executing rescue and firefighting operations.
141. This emerging risk is not unique to the SFRS and the Service has been considering the development of its procedures, training and equipment through engagement with sector expertise and with reference to National Operational Guidance.26