As more electric cars take to UK roads, attention is turning to their safety, in particular fire safety.
No matter that petrol and diesel cars can catch fire and many of them do (remember the spate of Vauxhall Zafira fires not so long ago?), an electric vehicle fire (there were 54 in London in 2019) commands a lot more attention. A few reasons: the technology is new, so newsworthy; EV fires are complex and often heralded by a highly toxic vapour cloud accompanied by a hissing noise and highly directional jets, followed, possibly, by an explosion; they can occur spontaneously; and putting out an EV fire is virtually impossible. You think it’s out and then it erupts again hours, days or even weeks later.
All this considered, it’s no wonder people are becoming concerned about electric car fires, not least those who have to put them out. Thankfully, fire services are developing strategies to deal with them. Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, for example, has announced that in the aftermath of any incident, road traffic collision or fire involving an EV, “one of our attending fire engines will follow the recovery vehicle back to the unloading point at their yard to assist with any fires”. It also said it has developed a system that enables fire crews to identify what model of EV is involved in an incident and where its battery and isolation switches are.