Shelby Township firefighters use special tool for electric vehicle fires

Shelby Township firefighters use special tool for electric vehicle fires
Shelby Township firefighters use special tool for electric vehicle fires

Shelby Township Fire Department has a special tool for electric vehicle fires

As more electric vehicles hit the road, fire departments need to be prepared for the risk of things going wrong.

TOWNSHIP OF SHELBY, MIch. (FOX 2) Car fires are nothing new, but electric car fires are different. Now the Shelby Township Fire Department has a new time-saving tool – when putting out flames.

The key is a giant fire blanket for the very specific type of fire.

“These were purchased specifically to help us with an electric vehicle fire,” said Lt. Robert Muylaert, Shelby Township Fire.

As more electric vehicles hit the road, fire departments need to be prepared for the risk of things going wrong.

“We prefer to have something prepared in advance, rather than waiting for disaster to occur,” he said.

A typical car fire can be put out in minutes, but electric cars burn differently.

“It can take four to five hours to put out a battery fire and after that, once it gets to a towing yard, those fires have reignited — even two to three days later,” Muylaert said.

This is all due to the way the vehicle batteries are positioned.

“Once they start to burn, it turns into what’s called thermal runaway,” he said. “So in this battery, (it) gives off enough heat and fire to ignite the battery next to it.”

But the blanket can take the heat.

“There’s Nomex in there, the same type of thing that our firefighter gear is made of,” he said. “(It can) withstand temperatures over 2,000 degrees to help suppress flames.”

It smothers the fire, cuts off the oxygen and makes sure the fire stays out.

A fire blanket is a one-time affair – meaning it will cover the vehicle on fire and leave it that way even after it’s been towed to a salvage yard, to prevent it from reigniting.

Not only does the cover save time, it also saves water. And thanks to the grant from the Macomb County Emergency Management Department, firefighters will know exactly how to use it, should the need arise.

“They ordered a number of these blankets with a few grant dollars and they were distributed to county departments,” the lieutenant said.

. firefighters township shelby use special tool for fire vehicles electric

. Shelby Township firefighters special tool electric vehicle fires

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