electric vehicle

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and Fire Risk

Did you know that California is banning the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles starting in 2035? Wow! This is a significant feat for the country’s most populous state and the center of U.S. car culture. Why is California doing this? This ban is a step in the state’s battle against climate change by reducing the amount of carbon discharged into the atmosphere.

However, as with any significant change, this ban will come with both positive and negative effects. One of those effects will be increased fire risk with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Let’s discuss.

Electric Vehicles Becoming More Common

EVs are rising in popularity and will likely become a more popular occurrence on the world’s roads. Bloomberg estimates EVs will grow from around 3 million vehicles in 2020 to 66 million by 2040. This means that in 2040, electric vehicles will represent two-thirds of the global auto market.

Why the sudden increase in EV sales? Electric vehicles are becoming less expensive and their batteries are able to withstand longer distances than before. These recent updates combat two of the largest cons of electric cars. 

The Growth in Electronic Vehicle Sales Will Demand More Charging Stations

With the rise in EV sales, we can expect to see more charging stations being built across California. Why? While EV owners don’t need to stop to top off their tanks, the success of the EV revolution depends on owners having access to an adequate charging network.

In fact, EV charging is becoming a growing industry; In 2021, EV charging was a $6.8 billion USD market already and is expected to reach over $20 billion USD with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38% by 2025. Such efforts will be supported by Tesla and other EV companies and likely result in millions of charging stations across the country. 

How Will the Ban of Gasoline Vehicles Affect the Fire Protection Industry?

The ban on gasoline vehicles and the resulting rise in both electric vehicles and charging stations will result in several fire risks. Let’s take a closer look.

Fire Risks With the Installation of Electric Charging Stations

 EV chargers face the same fire risk as any electrical installation. The safety of the charging stations can be affected by wiring components as well as the competency and experience of the installer. Improper or outdated wiring can short circuit, arc, and/or overheat, all of which can result in a serious fire. 

These risks are heightened in home chargers. 

Fire Risks While Electronic Vehicles Are Charging

Malfunctions are bound to occur in the transfer of high-voltage electricity between charging stations and vehicles. These malfunctions can result in a fire. The increase of charging stations entering the market brings an increase in these malfunctions and associated fire risks. 

Additionally, these vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, which are sensitive to high temperatures. When exposed to high temperatures, an uncontrolled self-ignition can occur.

Fire Risks Associated with Energy Storage Systems (ESS)

ESS will be necessary to supplement the direct grid electrical supply and accommodate a large demand for EV charging. The primary risk of these systems is damage or overheating from an internal fault that could cause a fire.

How Can Electric Vehicle Owners Mitigate Fire Risks?

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends the following tips for owners of electric vehicles to follow in order to reduce the risk of fire. 

  • “Follow manufacturer’s guidelines when charging your vehicle. Check with your local dealer if you need additional information.
  • Purchase a charging device that is certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • Plug Level 1 EV chargers directly into an outlet designed to handle the amperage of the charging device. Never use a multiplug adapter or extension cord.
  • Install a residual current device with the charging unit. It will turn off the power if a fault is detected and help prevent a fire.
  • Place all charging device components out of reach of children when not in use.
  • Maintain the components of your charging station according to the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines. Signs of excessive wear may indicate a potential shock hazard. Never use an EV charger with obvious signs of damage.
  • Cover the EV charging station outlet to stop water from entering. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure it is safe to charge your EV in wet conditions.”

How Can Building Owners Mitigate the Fire Risks Associated with Electric Vehicles?

Fire authorities have acknowledged these risks and have recommended that any building with electric vehicle charging or EV parking should be addressed as a special hazard. 

Read on to learn more about special hazards and special solutions.

Interested in Learning More?

If your business functions in an environment exposed to fire risk from electric vehicles, ensuring that you have solutions to protect against special hazards is imperative.

For more information, check out our fire protection solutions.