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Electric vehicles – a fire hazard? How to protect your employees and company

> 800,000
work accidents per year in Germany
24 sq. m
for a safe high-voltage observation area
steps to a sustainable setup

The number of electric vehicles is increasing rapidly. This has an enormous impact on the day-to-day business of every car dealership. Take the high-voltage monitoring area: often underestimated, yet unconditionally safety-relevant.

Challenge: Where to store damaged batteries and vehicles?

Just like internal combustion engines, high-voltage vehicles may ignite with a time delay after an accident. Accident vehicles should always be observed in an area where no consequential damage is to be expected in the event of a fire.

When setting up a suitable area you’re confronted by various requirements. Regulations of the vehicle manufacturers need to be observed, with full compliance to occupational health, safety, and fire protection legislation.

The statutory accident insurance does not impose any special requirements on monitoring areas for accident vehicles with electric or hybrid drives. However, in the event of a fire, spreading and more consequential damage must be prevented. How does that translate to a practical application?

Solution: Set up the perfect high-voltage observation area in just five steps

To provide adequate space for any vehicle the area should be at least 6 x 4 m in size.

1. Outdoors

Lithium-ion batteries may gas out and the parking area needs to be well ventilated. Outdoor areas are best, and you should consider upgrading any existing parking areas for old or incident vehicles. It should be protected from excessive sunlight, high temperatures, dust and moisture. Unauthorized vehicle access needs to be prevented: Provide a suitable barrier, at least by means of a routing tape.

2. Far enough away, but easily accessible

The observation area should be at least 5 m away from the building to prevent a fire from spreading to the car dealership. It should be directly accessible from the high-voltage repair area and easy to cross with heavy loads: no bumps and flat paving.

3. Facilitate fire-fighting, protect the environment

The fire brigade needs direct access to the area by a sufficiently wide road with clear signage. Any contaminated water must not mix with the groundwater. Potential environmental pollution from leaking electrolyte can be significantly reduced with a suitable collection vessel. A nearby hydrant will support the fire brigade in the event of an emergency.

4. Provide safety equipment

Ensure quick access to first aid equipment and a defibrillator. Have a fire blanket ready.

5. And how will that look?

Place the observation area out of sight of your customers. If you need visual screening, e.g. construction containers, choose it large enough! Be aware that your building authority may have to be notified.

Result: Potential fires do not spread, staff and dealership are safe

A few more questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are all your employees instructed and trained?

  • Do you have the appropriate and necessary tools?

  • Is your lifting equipment suitable for electric mobility?

  • Do you have sufficient ancillary space available for removed high-voltage storage units?

  • Are you prepared for the handling and storage of high-voltage units?

  • Do you know how to act if a high-voltage storage unit reacts thermally?

  • Do you have sufficient charging infrastructure at the dealership and what is the grid capacity?

  • What can you do if your energy capacity is not sufficient?

What’s next?

The requirements of electric mobility in a car dealership are complex. We will be happy to support you if you have any questions. Please contact us by phone at +49 (0)89 716 77 97 00 or by mail: [email protected]