This NFIRSGram explains how to code a fire involving an electric or hybrid vehicle in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).
Reports of fires involving electric or hybrid vehicles have raised questions about coding these incidents in the NFIRS. Fire departments may find this information helpful for planning, training and budgeting for specialized equipment.
What is an electric or hybrid vehicle?
Electric and hybrid vehicles rely on a power source other than traditional petroleum-based fuels. The specific name of the fuel source may vary depending on the vehicle manufacturer, but the primary points of differentiation are:
- A vehicle with electricity as a sole power source whether from an internal or external battery. Example: overhead power lines used to power a streetcar.
- Examples of electric and hybrid vehicles can include bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks or boats. The Incident Type code when the vehicle is the cause of a fire will be from the 13x series: Mobile property (vehicle) fire. Example: A fire caused by an electric car should be reported using Incident Type code 131 – Passenger vehicle fire (Block C of the Basic Module).
Examples of electric and hybrid vehicles can include bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks or boats. The Incident Type code when the vehicle is the cause of a fire will be from the 13x series: Mobile property (vehicle) fire. Example: A fire caused by an electric car should be reported using Incident Type code 131 – Passenger vehicle fire (Block C of the Basic Module).
Reminder: Whenever a code for “other” is used, an explanation should always be included in the Remarks field (Block L of the Basic Module) on the incident report.
In the event a charging station is involved in a fire — typically specific to electric vehicles that require stationary, fixed-facility charging — the Fire and Structure Fire Modules may be required. Remember that a fire involving a fixed facility will not have an Incident Type code in the 13x series; instead it will be in the 11x or 16x series. Please refer to the NFIRS Complete Reference Guide PDF.
1 Alternative Fuels Data Center: Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles (energy.gov).
Once the Incident Type has been determined, the Mobile Property section — Block H in the Fire Module — is used to identify a hybrid or electric vehicle in the NFIRS report. Please use the Mobile Property Model field (limit to 25 characters) in Block H2 of the Fire Module to define “electric” or “hybrid.” Please use proper spelling!
Mobile Property Involved
3 – Involved in ignition and burned
Mobile Property Type
11 – Passenger car
Mobile Property Make
OO — Other Make
Mobile Property Year
Mobile Property Model
License Plate Number
License Plate State
DC – District of Columbia
VIN Number (type-ahead)
What other modules must be completed?
If the Incident Type is in the 13x series:
The Basic and Fire Modules are required.
If the charging station is the cause of the fire:
- Equipment Involved in Ignition (Block F1 of the Fire Module) is 228 – Battery charger.
- Equipment Brand and Model can be used to identify the specifics of the charger manufacturer.
- If the charger is in or attached to a structure, the Incident Type will be 111 — Building fire — and the Structure Fire Module is required.
Optional modules can be completed (e.g., Resource or Personnel Modules, as per usual NFIRS rules). Required modules depend on Aid Given or Received; Aid Given Incidents (where AID is 3 or 4) do not require completion of additional modules such as the Fire Module.
What are the ignition factors?
Electric and hybrid vehicle fires may be linked to the battery or fuel source. This determination can be crucial for the fire department and investigative agencies. Heat Source, Item First Ignited, Type of Material First Ignited, and Factors Contributing to Ignition (Blocks D and E2 of the Fire Module) could be linked to the battery:
- Area of Fire Origin: For a vehicle fire, the Transportation, Vehicle Area (8x series) codes will be used.
- Heat Source: Radiated or conducted heat from operating equipment (Code 12) or Electrical arcing (Code 13).
- Item First Ignited: This should be the item first ignited by the heat source (e.g., plastic housing around the battery).
- Type of Material First Ignited: This item will depend on the specific situation, such as the casing surrounding the battery, components near the battery or the gases expelled by the battery at the time of ignition.
- Factors Contributing to Ignition: Design, manufacturing, installation deficiency (4x series) or Electrical failure, malfunction (3x series) codes for example.
What else is important to include in the report?
A good narrative is very important. Use the Remarks section of the report to include a detailed description of the incident. For example, it is critical to report fires involving lithium-ion batteries. For additional assistance with Remarks, please see this NFIRSGram: Report Remarks — Telling the Story.
Have a question about coding electric or hybrid vehicle fires?
Please contact the NFIRS Support Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.