Concerns over fire safety around lithium batteries used in vehicles such as golf cars, particularly when used on public streets (LSV’s and NEV’s), are prompting firefighters to share information on extinguishing fires involving lithium batteries. While there have been no reported cases of fires from lithium powered golf cars, examples of automobile fires have given rise to this concern.
In an article published on MSN Autos, firefighters in Germany issued a press release to other firefighters about an accident on a highway in Austria where an electric vehicle equipped with lithium-ion batteries crashed and the batteries caught fire. The German firefighters reported that while they were extinguishing the fire, they had to wear extreme respiratory control equipment because of the toxic fumes emitted from the lithium batteries. Also, the vehicle fire repeatedly re-ignited after apparently being extinguished and had to be extinguished repeatedly. They indicated that it was only after cutting the power to the lithium-ion batteries, that it was possible to finally put out the fire*.
Vehicle manufacturers utilizing lithium-ion batteries caution firefighters that lithium-ion battery fires can take up to 24-hours to fully extinguish. They also advise firefighters to inform second responders (law-enforcement, tow personnel) that there is a risk of the battery re-igniting
This concern has crossed over into golf cars, as some manufacturers are now utilizing lithium-ion battery systems. Any battery powered golf car that is not operated properly or charged in a closed environment (without proper ventilation), runs the risk of a potential fire. Although it is not very likely that lithium-ion powered golf cars will catch fire, it is important for consumers to be aware of the differences among battery types and the hazards that can occur in order to provide the highest level of safety possible.
*-MSN Autos – Here’s What Firefighters Do To Extinguish A Battery Fire On A Tesla Model S