4,500 gallons of water needed to put out car battery fire

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 3:59 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Banged up cars in the back of Station One in Sparks are used to help train firefighters about extrication. It’s not something the firefighters will have to do every day, but when called upon to do so, they could save a life.

One video from Sacramento is warning firefighters of another potential scenario. Putting out a battery fire in an electric car.

The car in the video was already in a salvage area in Sacramento. For some reason it caught fire, and it took firefighters a day and 4,500 gallons of water to put it out.

“It does happen as we saw in Sacramento and other places in the U.S.,” says Mike Hackler with Sparks Fire Department. “It does happen. These cars can burn. But we aren’t seeing it necessarily right after an accident. It is several hours or several days afterwards. And then when that happens it is difficult for us to put that fire out because it burns unbelievably hot. There is no way for us to get into that area,” says Hackler.

Hackler says firefighters are aware of the problem electric car batteries pose when they catch fire. It’s not a common occurrence and there’s yet to be such a reported fire like this in the area.

But in the Sacramento incident firefighters had to build a pit, fill it with water and submerge the Tesla.

Such a maneuver can’t be done if the battery fire is on a roadway or highway.

“If we had that situation here, it would have to be in a hydrant area,” says Hackler. “Because we just don’t have the manpower and we don’t have the equipment putting 4,500 gallons from like a tender shuttle or something like that. We are only 750 gallons per fire engine,” he says.

Firefighters understand every situation will be unique when and if local firefighters come across such a fire. As more electric cars are purchased, and they hit the road; statistically more of them will be in crashes. Even then these types of fires will not be common.

But firefighters will undoubtedly call for more training to handle battery fires in electric cars.

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