CleanTechnica received an interesting tip from one of our readers who is the owner of a condo in Keystone, Colorado. Their condo association at Keystone Resort informed them that EVs are not allowed to be parked or charged in their garage. She forwarded me the email, which reads:
Dear Decatur Homeowner,
The Decatur Board of Managers has been monitoring news about fire hazards when charging and parking electric vehicles “EV” in enclosed garages with attached dwellings. Decatur’s design creates increased risks if an EV fire happens in our garage. It is well established that the longer a fire takes to extinguish in high-rises, the exponential probability of total life and property loss.
Several factors significantly increase time to extinguish an EV fire at Decatur. First, water will not extinguish a battery fire in an EV making a sprinkler system useless. Second, The enclosed design of our garage makes it problematic for Firefighters to access the fire with the required amount of retardant. EV fires require an enormous amount of retardant.
Our parking design also will lead to other gas or EV vehicles nearby catching fire and accelerating the fire. All EV fires have happened while the cars are unattended while parked or charging, allowing them to grow until beyond control.
The Board of Managers contacted the Fire Marshall at Lake Dillon Fire and Rescue to determine their risk assessment of EVs in the community. The Fire Marshall understood and agreed an EV battery fire at Decatur would result in a substantial loss. While both the state and county is looking seriously at the issue and understands that guidelines are needed for properties such as Decatur there are no such guidelines available yet.
Several EV manufacturers and EV battery manufacturers have spent billions to recall possible faulty designs because of the risk of fire. For this reason the Board of Managers has decided for the time being to prohibit any and all EVs from using the Decatur garage, either parked or charging.
We have provided links below to several articles of interest on the topic.
Decatur Board of Managers
The email also provided four links sources from news articles and blogs. One such blog, ZeroHedge, had a headline that proclaimed that a home was a total loss after a Tesla that was being charged in the driveway spontaneously combusted. This fire is very recent and is still under investigation. Sadly, the owner lost their home and car in this fire.
The other three articles I’d like to suggest the condo association read are from CNN, Forbes, and BizPacReview, and all of them had questions and thoughts about EVs and fires. However, if you were to read through the articles, even CNN pointed out that an EV is less likely to catch fire than a gas car is.
“Are electric cars more likely to catch fire?
“The simple answer is probably not. Chances are they might even be safer, though it’s tough to say that definitively.”
Forbes pointed out that the EV fire risk is exaggerated.
“The risk of fire in an electric car has probably been exaggerated….”
BizPacReview noted that it’s a matter of when, not if, EV fires happen. Although this is true — anything can catch on fire — the article stated that fossil fuel vehicles (gas and diesel cars and trucks) tend to only catch on fire during accidents and while driving, not while sitting passively in a home or parking garage. The article stated that this occurs with EVs.
We have to remember that not all EVs are Teslas, and GM has been having issues with the Chevy Bolt having issues with fires. With this in mind, it’s still madness to imply that a tiny number of EV fires should justify banning them from a parking garage.
Gasoline is highly flammable, more so than batteries. This isn’t to say that batteries aren’t flammable, but if you’re going to tell someone not to park their car in a garage because it may catch on fire, then this needs to apply to all vehicles (which defeats the purpose of a parking garage).
In 2019, my colleague Steve Hanley wrote the article “More Than 150 Gas Car Fires Per Day — Can We Please Get Serious About Electric Car Battery Fires?” He pointed out that there were 166.7 gasoline fires per day, but few ever make the news. And yes, EV batteries can catch fire, but it’s not as common as a vehicle powered by gas or diesel.
Steve also pointed out that vehicles all rely on large amounts of stored energy. It can be in liquid form like gasoline or in the form of electrons stored in batteries. The media focuses on the dangers of EVs while ignoring that there are well more fuel-related car fires in America every single day.
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