Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warned that hurricane-damaged electric vehicles may be “ticking time bombs” as batteries corrode from the saltwater storm surge.
The lithium batteries are not only catching fire but are proving to be a nightmare to put out, burning at extremely high temperatures and often reigniting several times.
As state fire marshal, Patronis is asking for “immediate guidance” from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and help directly from the car manufacturers.
“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 said in a letter to NHTSA last week. “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.”
In a video posted on social media, Patronis said two homes burned down in one night alone due to an immobilized electric vehicle catching on fire.
Electric vehicles are catching on fire due to electrical system failure caused by saltwater storm surge from Hurricane Ian, catching homes on fire, endangering first responders and FL families. I'm calling on EV companies to partner with us to find solutions. We must take action. pic.twitter.com/L4TIuMZNzE— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) October 11, 2022
Patronis said the gases are also toxic and asked the NHTSA for guidance on whether the gas masks and personal protective equipment firefighters wear adequately protects teams.
This is the house @bob_rommel pointed out yesterday that caught fire from an EV. Burned to the ground. Caught the neighbor’s house on fire too. We’re forwarding this information to @NHTSAgov. Again, when EV fires begin there’s not a lot teams can do. Plus, the gases are toxic. pic.twitter.com/tk1QOnJnw8— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) October 11, 2022
If an EV catches fire, there’s not a lot fire teams can do. The second you stop dousing an EV with water, it flames up again. If a compromised EV was left in a garage for Hurricane Ian, the car burns and so does the house. How many EVs were left behind? How many are compromised? https://t.co/EnPfYadLnb— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) October 11, 2022
“We need you to lean forward, partner with us and understand how we can protect our first responders, how we can save people’s homes from burning down, and create a solution to make sure we all get out of this safely and start our recovery process," he said in the video.