NHTSA Confirms Fire Marshal’s Worst Fears About EV Fires After Hurricane Ian

Federal officials have indicated that a Florida official’s concerns over the safety of electric vehicles after a hurricane are something to be worried about.

Florida Fire Marshal and Chief Fiscal Officer Jimmy Patronis recently wrote to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning the problems firefighters have encountered with EVs in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

“On October 6th, I joined North Collier Fire Rescue to assess response activities related to Hurricane Ian and saw with my own eyes an EV continuously ignite, and continually reignite, as fireteams doused the vehicle with tens-of-thousands of gallons of water,” he wrote.

“Subsequently, I was informed by the fire department that the vehicle, once again reignited when it was loaded onto the tow truck. Based on my conversations with area firefighters, this is not an isolated incident.

“As you can appreciate, I am very concerned that we may have a ticking time bomb on our hands.”

Patronis took to Twitter on Friday with the NHTSA’s reply.


The letter said the North Collier incident he referenced in his letter was “not an isolated event.”

The letter further noted that the NHTSA has been probing electric vehicle safety after hurricanes since 2012’s Sandy.

In response to a question Patronis asked about the impacts for responders of having flooded EVs, he was told: “It may be helpful for persons who are not involved in immediate lifesaving missions to identify flooded vehicles with lithium-ion batteries and move them at least 50 feet form any structures, vehicles or combustibles.”

One of the core questions Patronis asked was how long an EV might pose a danger once salt water begins to corrode a lithium-ion battery.

The NHTSA said, “Lithium-ion battery fires have been observed both rapidly igniting and igniting several weeks after battery damage occurred.”

The agency said the timing depends on multiple factors, including the battery design and chemistry plus the amount of damage the battery has suffered.

“Test results specific to saltwater submersion show that salt bridges can form within the battery pack and provide a path for short circuit and self-heating. This can lead to fire ignition,” the NHTSA said.

Patronis said the information would be shared with his state’s first responders.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.