Wayne County Fire Department Hosts University Conference on Electric Vehicles

WAYNE COUNTY, Ohio – The Wayne County Fire Department is taking the lead in educating its firefighters about electric vehicles and the dangers associated with internal lithium-ion batteries found in newer models of electric vehicles.

With the increase in the number of electric cars on the road, firefighters at the Duncan Falls Wayne County Fire Department are learning more about this kind of car in development so they can focus on saving lives and protection of property in their community.

Today the department hosted an academic lecture and demonstration on electric and hybrid vehicles and how to handle a potential battery explosion from a crashed electric car. With continued advancements in the technology behind electric vehicles, new dangers may be introduced by the lithium-ion batteries found in electric makes and models already on the road.

The Energy Security Agency’s chief operating officer spoke about the dangers of having a lithium battery involved in a traffic collision.

“Lithium-ion batteries can produce very intense fires when damaged, mishandled, electrically abused, or have some sort of manufacturing defect that results in any of these events.”

Not only are the fires associated with these vehicles difficult to extinguish, but water runoff associated with firefighting efforts can also increase acidity in the area, causing the terrain surrounding electric car crashes is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous waste.

Zartman discussed the dangers of not using proper extrication techniques to try to save victims of electric vehicle collisions.

“If we crush, cut or in any way damage, shape or form the batteries, this is where, within minutes, we can develop poisonous gasses that are deadly if inhaled or touched, as well as ‘a fire hazard.’

Wayne County isn’t the only fire department working to understand these complex vehicles. The Energy Security Agency is actively working to educate county and local fire departments in Ohio about electric cars and the dangers associated with lithium-ion batteries.

Angela C. Hale