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Fire Crews Gear Up for Rise in EV Fires

Fire Crews are preparing themselves for a potential increase in incidents involving electric car fires, as the number of electric vehicles on UK roads surpasses one million and continues to rise rapidly. In response to this emerging challenge, Essex Fire and Rescue Service is implementing specialised training courses for its teams, led by Station Manager Terry Maher, who has taken on a new role focusing on lithium-ion battery fires, according to a recent article by the BBC.

 

Fire Crews Gear Up for Rise in EV Fires f
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While electric vehicle fires are still relatively rare, they present unique challenges compared to conventional vehicle fires. The batteries, often the ignition source, are difficult to access, and these fires can produce directional jet flames and vapour cloud explosions. Moreover, they release various toxic chemicals into the air and water runoff, complicating firefighting efforts.

Unlike handling fires in traditional vehicles, dealing with electric car fires can be significantly more time-consuming, with incidents potentially lasting several hours. Recovery operations are also complicated, as not all recovery companies are equipped to handle burned electric vehicles, which cannot be towed conventionally due to their power generation mechanism.

Despite the increasing prevalence of electric vehicles, the exact impact on fire services remains uncertain due to a lack of comprehensive data. While some efforts have been made to record lithium battery fires separately, many fire services do not distinguish electric vehicle fires from other types of vehicle fires in their records.

As electric vehicles become more widespread, concerns about fire safety in confined spaces like car parks are mounting. Guidance documents recommend increased spacing between electric vehicles to mitigate the risk of fire spread. Discussions are underway with airports to address potential fire risks associated with parked electric vehicles.

However, addressing battery fires poses significant challenges for fire services already stretched thin by budget cuts and staffing reductions. The Fire Brigades Union emphasises the urgent need for government investment in resources, research, and specialised training to effectively tackle the growing hazard of electric vehicle fires and ensure the safety of both communities and firefighters.

Mike Hawes, chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited, emphasised that safety stands as the top priority for the automotive industry. He highlighted that all vehicles available for sale in the UK, regardless of whether they are electric or not, need to adhere to relevant legislation. This encompasses international regulations crafted under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, which establish unified technical standards for the safety of electric vehicles, particularly regarding lithium batteries. Additionally, he noted that manufacturers furnish technical information to aid fire services in recognising vehicle emergency features.

Source www.bbc.co.uk

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction www.salvagemarket.co.uk drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

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The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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