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South Metro prepares for electric car, scooter fires with new training

Fires involving electric vehicles (EVs) and lithium-ion battery powered mobility devices are posing dangerous challenges to firefighters. This month, SMFR personnel are training for those incidents and preparing for a new way to fight EV fires... which may include not fighting them at all. EV and lithium-ion batteries can experience thermal runaway, a phenomenon in which the lithium-ion cell enters an uncontrollable, self-heating state. Fires can result from this and burn at extremely high temperatures up to 2,500°F, but cooling them is just the first challenge. If a lithium-ion battery combusts, it will produce hydrofluoric acid and hydrogen fluoride gas, an acute poison that is immediately dangerous to life and health. After consulting with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), South Metro determined the safest way mitigate an EV fire is to actually let it burn itself out. Since there could be nearby exposures at risk like buildings, vehicles or vegetation, fire blankets can be used to press the pause button on fire. The core blanket material is graphite with silicon polymer exterior coating and metal chain sewed into the edges to add weight. The blanket lowers temperatures and prevents the fire from spreading, but it will not extinguish fire or stop thermal runaway. The blanket offers a quick and temporary way to secure the area before letting the vehicle burn itself out. On a smaller scale, most of us have lithium-ion battery operated devices in our homes. While those batteries are smaller, they can still lead to dangerous fires if they're not maintained and charged properly. To learn more about keeping your home safe please visit this link

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