OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Fire Department is giving KFOR an inside look into new technology it’s considering purchasing to help firefighters put out electric car fires.
“It’s just safer for the roadways, it’s safer for our firefighters,” said Chief Scott Douglas with the OKC Fire Dept.
Douglas said the department is still shopping around and testing out special fire blankets made from tightly woven fiberglass with a protective silicone coating. He said that makes them perfect to smother electric car fires, which can be a long battle and takes a lot of water.
“They burn extremely hot. The lithium battery, they have a thermal runaway,” said Chief Douglas.
Douglas said a typical structure fire, or gas-powered car fire, takes about 500 gallons of water to extinguish. Electric vehicle fires vary but generally take about 30,000 gallons of water to put out.
“A lot of the times we only have engine water on our fire trucks,” said Douglas. “We don’t have the capability to hook up to a hydrant on the interstate on highways.”
Douglas said those trucks only carry up to 750 gallons of water, unless they break out their heavy tankers which carry 3,000 gallons of water.
Douglas said the blankets not only stop the flames, but also the smoke which can impact other drivers.
“We’re able to pull the canopy, the fire blanket, over the electric vehicle. [It} smothers the flames and that allows us to use our water more properly. We’re able to pop open the hood and get the water where we need to,” said Douglas.
However, the blankets are expensive.
They’re also only good for about three to five uses. Just one electric car fire could use one up.
Now, the search is on for the best deal.
“We’re trying to be proactive and get ahead of the curve,” said Douglas.