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Report: Fire protection of parking garages with EV fires

Electric cars burn no more often than petrol-powered cars, but battery fires are more difficult to extinguish. Two cities already ban parking electric vehicles in underground garages. But there are technical solutions.

They caused a stir on social media, the reports of spontaneous combustion and two underground parking closures for electric cars. Associations like the ADAC say the exclusion of underground garages is "not proportional".

But just how dangerous are electric cars in underground parking garages – and what does a good security concept look like? Focus Online spoke about this with fire protection expert Niki Traxel from WeTrax GmbH and RSL Fire, a specialist in handling burning lithium-ion batteries.

Niki Traxel Wetrax


Niki Traxel

The good news: there are solutions for electric cars in underground parking garages. But they are not simple or cheap. Only with significant structural interventions can fires be contained reliably without the risk of significant secondary damage.

We've looked at both CO2 and water mist concepts for parking garages, but both have issues. CO2 only works if the room is airtight and it does not cool the battery, which is necessary to prevent re-ignition. Water mist can first extinguish the fire and cool the battery, but in addition to the risk of drinking water contamination, it can also cause a short circuit. Ultimately, there is little escaping a solution with aerosol.

Parkeergarage sprinkler

Traditional sprinkler installations present major problems in electric car fires.

In an open underground car park, the aerosol would evaporate too quickly. A structural separation in smaller rooms is therefore important, not least to control the strong smoke development. Then aerosol is a very good way to fight a fire, since the extinguishing effect is significantly better than water sprayers and dangerous cross-reactions such as acid formation cannot occur. The consequential damage caused by contaminated fire extinguishing water also does not occur with aerosol.

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