It turns out EV fires require special procedures to put down
As electric vehicles transition from a niche of the market into the mainstream, they force us to reset our way of thinking not only regarding driving habits but also when it comes to dealing with emergency situations.
A recent incident involving a Tesla Model S sheds new light on how our current emergency procedures are not quite adapted to the EV reality. Last week, a Tesla Model S caught fire after crashing in Austria.
What would otherwise be a routine incident proved to be very difficult to control because of the way electric vehicles burn. Unlike fires involving cars powered by internal combustion engines, a burning EV is much more difficult to extinguish because of the highly-flammable batteries, as Austrian firefighters learned.
As the video above shows, it took 35 people and five vehicles to contain the fire and extinguish it. "The firefighting – which could only be carried out under severe respiratory protection – was difficult because the vehicle was repeatedly on fire. It was only after cutting the power supply from the high-performance batteries that it was possible to finally fight the fire," the firefighting force explained in a press release.
Some EV manufacturers, such as Tesla, have created emergency response guides for the even their cars catch fire. As the Austrian firefighters learned, the key thing to do to extinguish a Tesla on fire is to cut the Fire Responder Disconnect Point cable, which can be reached through the trunk or the rear pillar. Cutting the wire disables the high voltage system and airbags, making the fire easier to put down.
The scary thing is new fires can break out, even after extinguishing a blaze. That's why Tesla recommends that the vehicles be parked under quarantine for 48 hours to prevent any new fire from starting.