Why are Electric Car Fires Hard to Put Out in Malaysia?

why are electric car fires hard to put out

Electric cars, heralded for their technological advancements, present a new set of challenges concerning fire safety and suppression. One of which includes: Why are electric car fires hard to put out?

This article delves into the unique challenges that these fires present in Malaysia, exploring the complexities of EV fires and how to manage them.

Understanding why these fires are so challenging is crucial for developing more effective safety protocols and ensuring the well-being of EV users across the nation.

What Fire Hazards Do Electric Cars Have?

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Every fire has its spark. For electric cars, fires can start due to various factors, including:

1. Battery Malfunctions

The lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars can be susceptible to malfunctions such as thermal runaway.

It can lead to a cascade of chemical reactions that generate heat and potentially result in a fire.

2. Crash or Impact

Accidents or collisions can damage the battery pack or electrical components of an electric car, leading to:

  • short circuits,
  • punctures,
  • other faults that may cause a fire.

3. Overcharging

Overcharging the battery beyond its recommended voltage or current limits can lead to overheating and potentially cause a fire.

4. Manufacturing Defects

Defects in the design, construction, or assembly of electric car components, including the battery pack, wiring, or electrical systems, can lead to potential fire hazards.

5. Improper Maintenance

Lack of proper maintenance, including neglecting to address issues such as battery degradation or cooling system failures, can increase the likelihood of a fire.

Read More: The Importance of An Effective Fire System Maintenance

Why are Electric Car Fires Hard to Put Out in Malaysia?

Unlike traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, electric cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Unfortunately, what powers them is also the main cause of why electric car related fires are so hard to douse.

1. Thermal Runaway

When damaged or subjected to high temperatures, lithium-ion batteries can undergo a phenomenon known as thermal runaway.

It occurs when a cell is charged excessively or has a current flowing through it.

Thermal runaway can lead to rapid and uncontrollable overheating, potentially culminating in fire or explosion. This poses a significant hazard to firefighters tasked with extinguishing such fires.

2. Unique Composition

Moreover, due to its unique composition, lithium-ion batteries require extra care when handling them.

Traditional firefighting techniques may not be effective and could even worsen the situation by causing chemical reactions with the lithium within the batteries.

As a result, specialised equipment and extinguishing agents tailored for electric vehicle fires are required, adding complexity to firefighting operations.

3. The Hot Climate in Malaysia

Malaysia’s year-round hot and humid tropical climate creates challenging conditions for electric car batteries.

High temperatures and humidity can accelerate the onset of thermal runaway in lithium-ion batteries, amplifying the risk of fire incidents.

The moist air can also permit small lithium fires to persist and reignite even after being extinguished.

Read More: The Fire Triangle Explained: What Are the Three Elements?

How to Contain Electric Car Fires in Malaysia

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Fires are always cause for panic. This is especially true of electrical cars, which even firefighters are still struggling with due to their novelty.

While rare, electric car fires still require specialised handling techniques and safety protocols to ensure the safety of responders and the public.

Here are some of the best practices for handling electric car fires and essential safety measures:

1. Thermal Imaging Camera

In the case of an electric car fire, thermal imaging cameras can be a very useful tool.

Before approaching an on-fire electrical vehicle, use a thermal imaging camera to identify the location and intensity of the fire.

This will help determine the best tactics and where to focus suppression efforts.

2. Assess the Risk of Stranded Energy

Electric car batteries can retain a significant amount of residual energy, even after being discharged, posing a risk of reignition.

Assess this risk and take appropriate precautions to prevent fires from breaking out or a second wind to reignite a previously doused blaze.

3. Water Extinguishing

When dealing with fires, a large and sustained amount of water is mostly always a safe bet. Electrical car fires are no exception, with additional help.

Copious amounts of water and foam can be applied directly onto the battery pack to cool it down and prevent or cease thermal runaway.

This will help to contain collateral damage and minimise risks.

4. Follow Manufacturer Guidelines

Automakers provide specific guidelines for dealing with fires involving their vehicles.

Electric car owners should familiarise themselves with these guidelines and follow the recommended procedures for each make and model.

Read More: Electrical Fire Malaysia: How It Starts and How to Prevent One

Resolve Electric Car Fire Issues with Palcon

In the rapidly evolving world of electric vehicles, fires involving lithium-ion battery packs present a unique challenge.

At Palcon, we specialise in providing comprehensive solutions for extinguishing and mitigating every type of fire, even the unique ones.

Our dedication to safety, combined with our expertise in fire safety solutions, positions us as the premier service provider for tackling electric car fires and all your fire safety needs.

For those wanting to know more, contact our team today!



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