Georgia fire marshal speaks on how electric car fires differ from gas fires

Georgia fire marshal speaks on how electric car fires differ from gas fires
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 7:10 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Car fires are an unfortunate part of crashes and part malfunctions, however, fires in electric vehicles are different than traditional gas car fires. WALB’s Jim Wallace sat down with the state fire marshal to see how firefighters combat this new type of fire.

One of the things that are happening, Mr. Landolt, there are more and more electric cars on Georgia’s roads right now. And when they catch fire, it’s a big incident.

“Yes sir, absolutely. Electric vehicles have been around for almost two decades possibly now, but the fire service has evolved as far as its response. Both in training and personnel and equipment to hybrid vehicles and now full-on electric vehicles. But it is an industry that is in constant evolution. And the fire service both at the state level and the national level are very much trying to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in that industry,” State Fire Marshal Craig Landolt said.

Electric car fires are very different. They are much more difficult to put out. So firefighters are now being trained on how to handle these kinds of incidents.

“Yes, so first they have to identify if the vehicle is indeed an internal combustion vehicle versus an EV. Not all of them are readily identifiable. So you have to stay on top of what manufacturers make, what models, in the industry. And as they encounter them on the street. And then when you are dealing with lithium ion, once they begin that runaway cycle, it is very challenging to put enough water on that fire to cool the process. Or interrupt the process of these batteries continuing to spread from one battery cell to the next. And it’s a real challenge for the fire service and we are all trying to gather as much information as we possibly can. Just want to make certain that we keep our firefighters safe, but also respond to these events and try to keep them from spreading. You know obviously if the electric vehicle is out on an open roadway, away from any other hazards. To deal with that could be different if it was parked up against a building for instance,” Landolt said.

So new technology comes with new challenges, and the firefighters have to be trained for it.

“Absolutely,” Landolt said.