Fire on transport ship presumably caused by electric car – expert shows what dangers are imminent and what to do in case of emergency

August 10, 2023

According to initial findings, an electric car caught fire on board a transport ship. A catastrophe that once again brings battery-powered vehicles in particular into focus and calls their safety into question.

Donato Muro M.Mult. is also following the events with interest. “There are more and more cases like this and it’s time to respond and train how to handle fires.” The engineer calls for a critical examination of the technology of e-cars. In this article, the expert explains the risks posed by electric vehicles – and how the danger can be mitigated.

Electric cars – a technology with risks

The fact that fires involving electric cars are occurring more and more frequently is no surprise. After all, e-cars are considered susceptible to fast-flammable fires due to the lithium-ion batteries they contain. The real problem, however, lies in the largely inadequate as well as unfashionable on-board extinguishing systems that use foam or carbon dioxide – both of which, however, prove to be insufficient as they do not provide any help against the batteries’ oxygen generation during the fire. Consequently, this is where the real need for improvement becomes apparent.

This is how help succeeds in an emergency

If a lithium-ion battery catches fire, it is almost impossible to extinguish the fire completely – it is usually better to let it burn down in a controlled manner. In addition, it is important to use extinguishing systems that use a high-pressure water mist instead of carbon dioxide to fight the fire. In this way, relatively little water is used, but it is better controlled and can be discharged more quickly once the operation is over – which is a prerequisite for maintaining the stability of the ship.

Not only the experts are called upon

But it is not only the fire department that contributes to preventing and fighting fires on e-cars. Their owners are also called upon to have regular maintenance and, if necessary, the necessary repairs carried out. The correct procedure for charging the car is also advised, for which the appropriate charging connections must be used. Basic knowledge of the batteries installed can also often help to avoid an emergency. When these overheat and which integrated technologies counteract a fire can differ.

Is the e-car still worth it?

Of course, fires involving e-cars do not remain without consequences. Many people wonder whether buying an electric car really makes sense – or whether the dangers don’t outweigh the benefits. Still, battery-powered vehicles pose no more risks than many other goods transported on such a vessel. After all, storage cells and rechargeable batteries can be found in various everyday items. This makes it all the more important to once again devote specific attention to firefighting and to rectify any deficiencies there.

Even modern technology can still be improved

In addition, the electric car makes important contributions to climate protection by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So rather than casting doubt on the technology itself, it should be improved. However, it is equally clear that more and more shipping companies – such as the Norwegian company Havila Kystruten at present – are refusing to transport e-cars on their freighters. Again, however, the measure is not directed against the vehicles, but against the outdated firefighting systems, which will require renewal in the future.

About Donato Muro:

Donato Muro has competencies in safety and fire protection engineering and in chemistry. He also holds a degree in law and is an aspiring industrial psychologist. With his expertise, Donato Muro is fully available to assist his clients. The owner of several companies, Donato Muro’s clients are mainly industrial groups – companies where occupational safety goes beyond ergonomic desk chairs. For more information, visit: https://sicherheitsingenieur.nrw/

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