Electric Vehicle Fire Safety
All vehicles—both electric and gasoline-powered—have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash. Just as special techniques have been developed to respond and extinguish fires in gasoline-powered vehicles, first responders, tow truck operators, and the public need to be aware of the specific attributes and characteristics of fires involving electric and hybrid vehicles.
The information provided on this page is intended to serve as a general reference for first responders and vehicle operators. Individual manufacturers should be consulted regarding specific information on a particular make or model vehicle.
Quick Tips for First Responders:
- Identify the type and model of vehicle so that they know where the battery is and how to best shut down the vehicle if possible.
- Be prepared to use more water for electric vehicle fires, and note that fires could also be burning inside one of the protective compartments, invisible to the first responder.
- Be aware of the possibility that a lithium-ion battery fire could reignite. If not entirely discharged, the stored energy inside the battery could cause a second or even third fire.
- Keep electric vehicles that have been in an accident away from buildings or other structures because of the possibility of reignition.
- Understand that electric vehicles are silent and may still be on even if it’s not audible. The voltage from the vehicle could shock a first responder.
- Always wear self-contained breathing apparatuses when dealing with a lithium-ion battery fire as some vehicles can emit toxic vapors.
Additional Resources for First Responders:
- NHTSA Interim Guidance for Electric and Hybrid-Electric Vehicles Equipped With High Voltage Batteries
- Electric Vehicle Safety Training (NFPA): http://www.evsafetytraining.org
A nationwide program through the National Fire Protection Association to help firefighters and other first responders effectively deal with emergency situations involving electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. The Web site hosts an EV blog, calendar of events, training videos, emergency field guides from 19 auto manufacturers, research reports, as well as an online training course.
- Individual Vehicle Emergency Response Guides
- Bulletin on Submerged Hybrid/Electric Vehicles
- Tesla First Responders Information