Associate Director / Specialist Services Lead / National Fire Safety Lead
As Australia pushes towards a more sustainable future, electric vehicle uptake is set to soar over the next decade. To support this shift, the Australian Building Codes Board are developing targets for ‘EV readiness’ within future revisions of the National Construction Code, such that buildings may be required to accommodate up to 80% electric vehicles.
From a safety perspective, what will this mean for your building and its occupants? What are the risks and how can we help you mitigate them?
Electric Vehicles (EV) comprise a lithium-ion battery, which, if involved in a fire event, presents many unique risks and challenges. EV fires can occur when a battery experiences a short circuit which could be due to overcharging, heating, manufacturing faults, extreme weather conditions or mechanical impact.
EV fires involve the lithium-ion battery entering thermal runaway, a phenomenon in which the lithium-ion cells undergo an uncontrollable chemical reaction to produce large clouds of toxic and flammable gases. As the chemical reaction continues and cells heat up, ignition may occur, producing a fire. EV fires are characterised by high temperatures, toxic vapour clouds, and jet flames. As EV battery packs are typically located on the floor pan of the vehicle, suppression is difficult. There is also a risk of projection of debris, explosions and reignition following suppression, which may result in major damage and loss of life.
Fire authorities have acknowledged these risks and have recommended that any building with electric vehicle charging or EV parking should be addressed as a special hazard under NCC Clause E1.10 – Special Hazards.
Passionate about creating safe environments, our team has developed a consolidated fire safety strategy for electric vehicles within underground car parks which meets the requirements of all stakeholders such as owners, developers, maintenance providers, fire brigade, building certifiers and fire safety engineers.
ADP’s fire safety strategy includes an integrated building services design solution to address the new risks and challenges associated with electric vehicles. Our solution considers and addresses the change in fuel load, fire characteristics and suppression requirements introduced to buildings due to both electric vehicles and the charging requirements for these vehicles. The solution also focuses on incremental upgrades to existing systems to address the EV fire risks economically.
Drawing on our expertise in the building services space, we have optimised the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, vertical transportation, fire protection and sustainability design within the building to support the fire engineering outcomes.
The risk electric vehicles present for these new and unique fire types requires a safety solution heavily reliant on Fire Brigade intervention. ADP has proactively engaged with the Brigade to understand their operational requirements and to deliver a solution that meets their expectations.
Please contact us if you would like us to present your team.
Written by Alister Curtain, Senior Fire Safety Engineer
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