NEW JERSEY – South Jersey EMT and lawmaker, Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick, is concerned about the growing number of electric vehicle fires as sales soar and storms surge.
The risks these fires pose to firefighters and EMTs prompted her to introduce a bill that would require New Jersey’s Division of Fire Safety and health commissioner to adopt new training.
“Fire departments in South Florida have had to deal with many dangerous electric vehicle fires following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. There is no reason a similar scenario couldn’t play out here,” Patrick (R-Salem) said. “Salt water can corrode electric vehicle batteries, which produce fires that are much hotter and different than your typical car fire. Training firefighters and EMTs on the risks and management of EV fires should become standard in New Jersey.”
Florida, which has the second most EV registrations behind California, is experiencing increasing electric car fires because of flooding from Ian. Fire chiefs say that while a gas-powered car fire requires one tank of water and less than an hour to safely put out, EV fires require much more effort. Batteries need to cool and burn out, which could take up to two hours, or a fire department must continuously dump water on the car for 6 to 8 hours.
“Governor 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,” 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.”
According to the state DEP, New Jersey had 80,583 EVs registered in June 2022 – up from 338 just a decade ago. An IHS Markit analysis projects that 25-30% of new car sales in the U.S. could be electric by 2030. Reuters estimates that by 2050 more than half of the vehicles on U.S. roads could be EVs.
As part of the Murphy administration’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050, the governor wants to have 330,000 EVs on the road by 2025. That would require a 310% increase of registered EVs in New Jersey.
McCarthy Patrick, who is also a life member of Pennsville Fire and Rescue, explained that the go-to methods of extinguishing a fire just won’t work on electric vehicles and could even create a deadly explosion.
“First responders knowingly go to work every day putting their lives on the line, but we prepare for all the possible scenarios so that we are ready. Unfortunately, electric vehicle fires are a new threat that we are unprepared for and one that is not showing any signs of slowing down,” Patrick said. “That is why I am asking that this responsible and commonsense measure be considered.”