As part of an investigation into the safety risks emergency responders face when dealing with the high-voltage lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) studied three electric vehicle crashes resulting in fires (in Lake Forest and Mountain View, California, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida) and one noncrash fire involving an electric vehicle (in West Hollywood, California). The crashes caused extensive damage that extended into the protected area of the cars’ high-voltage battery cases, rupturing the cases and damaging battery modules and individual cells. The noncrash fire was caused by an internal battery failure. In each case, emergency responders faced safety risks related to electric shock, thermal runaway, battery ignition and reignition, and stranded energy. The investigation also examined national and international standards established to maximize the safety of electric vehicles and the emergency response guides produced by vehicle manufacturers. The NTSB identified two main safety issues: (1) inadequacy of vehicle manufacturers’ emergency response guides for minimizing the risks to first and second responders (firefighters and tow operators) posed by high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires in electric vehicles, and (2) gaps in safety standards and research related to high-voltage lithium-ion batteries involved in high-speed, high-severity crashes. On the basis of its findings, the NTSB makes safety recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the manufacturers of electric vehicles equipped with high-voltage lithium-ion batteries, and six professional organizations that represent or operate training programs for first and second responders.
Last Updated: 04/04/2022 08:18:49am