BDPD Rethinking Strategy When Dealing With Electric Vehicle Crashes

(Beaver Dam) As more electric vehicles are hitting the roadway; police departments are having to rethink their strategy when dealing with traffic accidents. Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson says there is special consideration taken when dealing with vehicles with lithium ion batteries, saying they are more combustible and burn differently. He adds, however that… “a car fire is a car fire, they are both dangerous.” 

The concern revolves around the materials contained in the batteries that power these vehicles, specifically lithium, which Johnson says can react violently when exposed to the open air and water. Lithium reacts with water to create a hydrogen gas which is highly flammable, with Lithium-Metal batteries requiring a Class D fire extinguisher. Johnson explained during an interview on WBEV’s Community Comment that many fire departments carry special chemicals for these types of fires, often at a significantly increased expense.  

Almost all electric vehicles on the road currently use Lithium Ion or a Nickel Metal Hydride battery similar to those used in cellphones and laptops.