Firefighters union calls for government action on EV battery fire risks – Australia – Batteries News | CarTailz

Firefighters union calls for government action on EV battery fire hazard – Australia

The National Committee of Management has passed a resolution calling on Australian governments to regulate electric vehicle fire risk management.

The United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFUA) wants governments to help mitigate the risks associated with potential EV battery fires as EV sales grow rapidly.

UFUA’s National Committee of Management has passed a resolution calling on Australia’s various levels of government to “develop policy and regulate the management of risks and hazards associated with Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)” .

EV and BESS emergencies have presented significant challenges and threats to firefighters, the community and the environment, according to UFUA National Secretary Greg McConville.

Greg McConvillesaid the national secretary of UFUA:

While we welcome the increased use of electric vehicles and BESS as part of the renewable energy effort to combat climate change, we must recognize that this emerging technology poses unique risks.

“When the integrity of lithium batteries is compromised, the energy stored within is released as heat known as ‘thermal runaway’ and this can cause fires that are extremely difficult to extinguish while producing an extraordinary array of deadly toxic gases.” is released.”

“A typical car fire would require less than 1,400 liters of water to extinguish, but an EV battery fire in an EV can require anywhere from 2,000 to 30,000 liters of water.”

“This vast volume of water can also be highly contaminated and would need to be contained and treated, posing significant logistical problems for fire departments and governments.”

“…with the rapidly increasing prevalence of [EVs] and BESS, the problems are growing exponentially.”

Mr McConville also said the problem is not limited to electric vehicles.

“Many households are installing lithium batteries as part of their solar panel power systems, and BESS are being installed in underground parking lots and in apartment blocks,” he said.

Mr McConville added that thermal runaway fires release toxins that are dangerous to firefighters and the community.

“BESS fires release a number of deadly toxins, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen fluoride and cobalt,” he said.

“These toxins are particularly dangerous for firefighters because they are absorbed dermally through the skin and no personal protective equipment can protect you from them.”

“Carbon monoxide and hydrocyanic acid are known as the terrible twins. Both prevent the body from using oxygen, and cyanide affects organs that rely on high levels of oxygen, such as the heart and brain.”

“We already had a situation in Victoria where two firefighters suffered cobalt poisoning after participating in an electric vehicle fire and have now been permanently disabled.”

“These toxins also pose a major risk to other emergency responders such as police officers and ambulances, bystanders and the wider community and therefore all possible measures must be taken to mitigate their effects.”

Mr McConville said increasing adoption of EV and BESS units meant Australian governments had to develop regulations, policies, training and education to reduce risks.

“Governments across Australia need to start working with firefighters to develop proper regulations and policies to mitigate the risks and hazards of EV and BESS fires,” he said.

“This must include educating the public about the risks involved, as well as additional training and resources for firefighters to manage these extremely challenging incidents.”

“Building codes related to the installation and location of BESS and charging facilities also need to be revised to address the risks and hazards of fire.”

“In addition, there is a need to research the health effects of lithium battery fires on firefighters and to develop new methods and devices to mitigate potential poisoning from deadly toxins.”

“This is a major new political challenge, one that affects the safety of firefighters and the community, and we urge Australian governments to live up to the commitment our members are demonstrating every day.”

On the plus side, lithium iron phosphate battery chemistries are becoming more prevalent in top-selling Tesla, BYD, and MG products, which are far less prone to thermal runaway.

UFUA represents more than 13,000 firefighters and related personnel, it claims.

The firefighters’ union calls for government action on EV fire risks on November 11, 2022

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