First city blocks underground parking for electric cars
Because electric and hybrid vehicles are difficult to extinguish when they burn, they are no longer allowed in the underground car park in Kulmbach, reports focus.de. The city decided in consultation with the fire brigade for the underground car park under Eku-Platz, InFranken.de previously reported.
The background is that there was a fire in the underground car park a few months ago. At the time, a gasoline vehicle and not an electric car were on fire, but those in charge realized at this point that it would not have been possible to extinguish the fire promptly in the event of a burning electric car. A steel floor can withstand heat for a while, but if too much heat is applied, the concrete will burst and the iron would melt.
The n there would be a risk of collapse. This is how the city justified the unusual step. So far, there are said to have only been a few such bans in Germany for gas-powered vehicles.
In Kulmbach it is currently being discussed to extend this ban to other parking garages in the city. For this purpose, it must be discussed with the fire brigade whether it is technically possible in the event of a fire to take the vehicle with heavy equipment from the parking garage. It could be possible that in the future electric and hybrid vehicles will only be able to park on the ground floor of the car park, for example. According to the city of Kulmbach, other cities would also consider issuing such bans.
The city of Kulmbach is aware that drivers of electric cars could possibly feel disadvantaged, it was said when asked, but the safety of the citizens must come first. In addition, more preventive awareness-raising work on the part of vehicle manufacturers regarding fire risks would be desirable, according to a city spokesman.
It is true that electric car manufacturers point out that their vehicles burn much less often than gasoline-powered vehicles. But insurance experts pointed out that the fire risk always correlates with age and therefore no meaningful data could be available for the still young electric cars.
But if there is a fire, it will be more dramatic. “E-cars do not burn more often than other vehicles, but when a battery ignites, it burns very quickly and can hardly be extinguished”, accident researcher Bettina Zahnd is quoted as saying. In such a case, it is only a matter of freeing the occupants from the car as quickly as possible and bringing them to a safe distance in order to protect them from burns and toxic fumes.
“Mainly chemical hazards”
A dreaded consequence of accidents in electric cars is the so-called “thermal runaway”: If an electrical short circuit in a lithium-ion battery triggers a fire due to a defect or mechanical damage, the danger is not the individual cell, but a chain reaction in which the liquid electrolyte is ignites and the fire spreads rapidly to other cells. Battery experts would refer to this as “thermal runaway” or thermal runaway.
Such fires in electric vehicles are extremely difficult to extinguish for the fire brigade. Enormous amounts of water would be required. And not just for the first attack. Once the flames have suffocated, fires could flare up again and again, even hours after the accident.
The only thing that could help the rescue workers was a radical solution, as was demonstrated in the Netherlands: After a crash or other incidents, the Stromer would be submerged in closed containers with water.
In the case of technical defects – which do not always have to be in the battery, but also in simple short circuits or problems with the power line in the house – one would face problems, especially in closed rooms such as underground garages or tunnels, that were previously unknown from gasoline vehicles.
FOCUS-Online quotes from a study by the Swiss Department for the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication DETEC, which appeared in summer 2018: “Because of the reactive and in some cases highly toxic materials, battery fires in closed rooms or underground infrastructures are primarily exposed to chemical hazards.
The released pollutants can concentrate in the air due to restricted ventilation options and exceed critical threshold values for humans more quickly than outdoors, where the smoke gases are more diluted.
The escape or rescue options that are often not optimal in such rooms make the situation even more difficult and contribute to the particular danger“.