As EV batteries catch fire in Florida, a call for training in NJ
TRENTON – Fires involving electric vehicles that are occurring in Florida due to saltwater damage from Hurricane Ian have New Jersey lawmakers renewing attention to a proposal to provide firefighters and emergency medical technicians training for such events.
It can take up to eight hours of pouring water on it to extinguish a fire in an electric car battery, which has been happening in Florida due to corrosion in EVs that had been submerged in water.
Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick, R-Salem, a life member of Pennsville Fire and Rescue, said the usual methods for putting out a fire don’t work on electric vehicles and could cause an explosion.
She said the state Division of Fire Safety should adopt new training.
“Unfortunately, electric vehicle fires are a new threat that we are unprepared for and one that is not showing any signs of slowing down,” McCarthy Patrick said. “That is why I am asking that this responsible and commonsense measure be considered.”
Legislation (S2881/A4476) providing training was introduced in June by Sen. Edward Durr, R-Gloucester, and in September by McCarthy Patrick, who was joined by co-sponsors Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, and Assemblyman Brandon Umba, R-Burlington.
“While the risk of an EV fire is low, managing such a fire requires specialized training since a lithium-ion battery can burn hotter and for a longer period of time than a gasoline engine,” Durr said. “My legislation will make sure our first responders receive the necessary funding and training they need so that they are prepared to confront these challenges in the future.”
On Monday, Durr proposed a companion bill (S3237) that would allocate money for the training from the Universal Service Fund, which is generally used to make electric and gas bills more affordable for low- and moderate-income households.
According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, there were 80,583 plug-in electric vehicles registered in New Jersey as of June 2022, up from around 1,500 a decade earlier.
The state’s Clean Energy Plan sets a goal of 330,000 EVs in New Jersey by 2025.
“Gov. Phil Murphy and Democrats keep pushing electric vehicles and their green agenda without considering the bigger picture like infrastructure, costs and the safety of our first responders,” McCarthy Patrick said. “Electric vehicle fires pull time and resources away during emergencies because they take so long to put out. The fumes emitted by burning lithium-ion batteries can also be toxic to those on the scene.”