Last month, a massive fire broke out at a German bus depot, destroying 20 electric buses. First responders weren't prepared nor properly trained in extinguishing lithium-ion fires. The fire prompted one German official to question the zero-emissions vehicles as the "spontaneously" combustion of the batteries "is completely unaddressed," according to RT News.
"The risk of these fires, including in other locations such as bicycle basements or large apartment blocks, is completely unaddressed," Heinrich Duepmann of Germany's Electricity Consumer Protection Association told RT. "Also, insurance companies are not yet tackling the issue."
Duepmann said the fires are "not regulated," and fire barriers between electric busses and ones that run on diesel will be constructed to reduce the risk.
Europe and much of the West are experiencing a green transport boom. The transition from dirty diesel and petrol to electricity has come with significant risks, such as when a lithium-ion-powered vehicle spontaneously combusts during operation or charging (over the years, we've seen plenty of Teslas catch fire). First responders aren't prepared to tackle such fires. This was clear in Baltimore, Maryland, last month when a Tesla crashed, and its batteries exploded, taking firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze.
Baltimore County Volunteer Firefighters Association was so fed up with the incident because they're not equipped nor have the proper training to handle such fires. They tweeted, "Let's hope @elonmusk can work with the fire service and together we can develop a better response."
But it's not just Baltimore firefighters who are not adequately trained in battling lithium-ion fires as more and more electric vehicles enter the roadways. There are firehouses across the country that are not prepared.
The only weapon that firehouses have is water and to let the fire burn out, but that could take hours.
A few months ago, 20 tons of water were used to extinguish a Tesla fire in Taiwan. For some context, it only takes 3 tons of water to put out a gasoline car fire. A Texas fire chief told The Independent that a Tesla fire needed 40 times more water to control the blaze in a separate incident.
What becomes evident is first responders aren't prepared for the brave new world of green transportation and the occasional battery fire. This has been proven around the globe as electric car companies, such as Tesla and VW, among others, should brief local governments on how to tackle lithium-ion fires.