Safety issues with high-voltage, lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles first gained widespread attention when a Chevrolet Volt caught fire three weeks after a crash test in May 2011. Challenges for responders remain, due to lack of standardized emergency response guidance for incidents involving electric vehicles with high-voltage batteries.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently released safety recommendations derived from their Safety Risks to Emergency Responders from Lithium-Ion Battery Fires in Electric Vehicles report and created a short video summarizing the findings.
The electric vehicle incident investigations discovered three key safety risks.
- Thermal runaway.
- Stranded energy.
- Battery reignition.
The NTSB calls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and electric vehicle manufacturers to provide standardized, vehicle-specific guidance for emergency responders in addressing the implications of these safety risks for fire suppression, mitigation and safe storage.
The organizations concerned with emergency responder safety are asked to inform their members about the circumstances of the fire risks and the guidance available to emergency personnel who respond to high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires in electric vehicles.
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: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times