Lithium-ion battery technology may reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, but it can be quite volatile if the electric vehicle catches fire during a crash. In addition to the potential for explosions and toxic material spillage, EV fires pose a different challenge to responding firefighters.
There’s currently no established process for handling such failures, but Austrian fire-service vehicle and firefighting equipment manufacturer Rosenbauer has developed a new EV-specific fire extinguisher. Comprised of an extinguishing unit and an operating unit, the system allows firefighters to flood the battery cells with several tons of water from a safe distance (approx. 8 metres / 25 feet).
Once the operator positions the extinguishing unit under the vehicle, the water jet penetrates the battery, leading to sufficient cooling. However, not all automobiles remain on all four wheels during a crash. If the vehicle is lying on its side of roof, the system can also penetrate through the interior, top, or boot. Rosenbauer has tested the new EV fire extinguisher with various battery designs including pouch, prismatic, and round cells. Professional European fire brigades have also put the system to the test, proving that it’s compatible with the existing tactics and resources.
“We were very pleased to be able to develop and test the extinguishing system together with Rosenbauer and to be able to contribute to the improvement and further development,” said Head of the Securitas Fire & Safety Patrick Looß. “The extinguishing system is one of the best and most innovative of its kind to curb the spread of a battery fire. The operation is very user-friendly and effective. From my point of view, the system is a must-have for every fire service.”
With testing and development complete, Rosenbauer will move into producing the new EV fire extinguisher. Fire brigades can pre-order the system now and units will arrive in early 2022.