The number of batteries is increasing, and so is the size of the batteries. At the same time, batteries are used in places that increase risks.
To meet today’s challenges, the fire department in Denmark has developed a container that can extinguish fires in electric cars involved in accidents. However, the container does not meet all the challenges generally presented by electric cars and lithium-ion batteries when they are indoors. When electric cars are parked side-by-side for charging in multi-storey or underground car parks, or when powerwalls or battery banks containing lithium-ion batteries are installed in buildings.
- In a fire in a multi-storey car park containing many cars, or in a battery bank or powerwall in a space in a building, there could potentially be so much hydrogen fluoride in the air that we can't stay there for more than a few minutes at a time. It hampers effective fire fighting efforts. Also, the batteries expand all the time and accumulate more energy in a small space, and this can present a challenge to the structures of modern-day buildings as they are not build to withstand such a great fire load as the large lithium-ion batteries contain today, says Michael Kim Andersen from the emergency services in Copenhagen.
Therefore, he hopes that the legislators will introduce requirements to ensure that structures can withstand the fire load and prevent fires spreading and, at the same time, ensure that the emergency services have a sound opportunity to operate safely in the event of a fire.
- For example, this could be requirements for more space between electric cars in multi-storey and underground car parks near the exit so that the emergency services can tow electric and hybrid cars out quickly and easily. In the case of powerwalls and battery banks, it may be worth considering requirements for the placement of cars, active extinguishing equipment and adequate passive fire protection, so that a battery fires do not spread to the rest of the building and the poisonous gases can be dealt with safely, concludes Michael Kim Andersen.