Tesla Model S Fire Prompts Fire Department to Ignite Electric Vehicle for Additional Training


“When the fire department arrived, they observed standard procedure, which was to gain access to the source of the fire by puncturing holes in the top of the battery’s protective metal plate and applying water. For the Model S lithium-ion battery, it was correct to apply water (vs. dry chemical extinguisher), but not to puncture the metal firewall, as the newly created holes allowed the flames to then vent upwards into the front trunk section of the Model S. Nonetheless, a combination of water followed by dry chemical extinguisher quickly brought the fire to an end.”

Model S On Fire

Model S On Fire

That’s what Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated in regards to how the local fire department handled the recent Model S fire.

Though the fire department did a decent job, some mistakes were made.

The most notable mistake, at least according to Musk, was the puncturing of the metal firewall.

So, how does one learn how to correctly extinguish an electric vehicle fire?

Practice makers perfect.

Last Friday, just days after the Model S fire, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue (not Kent Fire & Rescue who handled the actual Model S fire) ignited an electric vehicle to practice dousing the flames.

What they found was that extinguishing battery-electric vehicles doesn’t present a difficulty beyond that of conventional automobiles.  The way in which you attack the fire may differ, but the objective is the same: cool and eliminate/reduce/restrict the oxygen source.

The only add on for battery electric vehicles is that firefighters should disconnect the vehicle’s high-voltage line is possible and should do so once the fire is fully extinguished.

For the Kent fire team that handled the blazing Model S, this was their first experience with an electric vehicle.  Though they appeared to have some difficulty in extinguishing the flames, the end result was that the fire was put out and that nobody was injured.

That’s always the goal.  Prevent injury…extinguish the fire.

Source: Q13

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8 Comments on "Tesla Model S Fire Prompts Fire Department to Ignite Electric Vehicle for Additional Training"

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I wonder which one they ignited? And did they ignite the battery or just the car?

OK here’s my idea for a car fire extinguisher. Make a large, light, fire proof air tight tarp that can be stretched over and dropped onto a burning car. No water or chemicals needed.


The Fox News report doesn’t say the ignited an EV. It was just a routine exercise using a dummy car.

Not with bloody water…

Water (not bloody, preferably, but sparkling is ok) is the FAA recommended way to put out a Li-ion battery fire. The idea is to cool everything down to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent cells or other materials.

That may be but sticking water on active high voltage equipment is considered a “no no” in electrical engineering land. In fact, they teach you that in EE 101.

I doubt I am going to change my mind unless water stops being conductive.

Scott, point taken, but it’s not up to you, io, me or someone else here on InsideEVs to make that determination. Please keep in mind that distilled water is not conductive, it takes ions and impurities to change that. That saud, EVs should disengage the battery in the event of an accident to prevent any connection to the ground. Another argument against using water in lithium battery fires is the reactiveness of alkali metals when they come in contact with H2O. What’s often misunderstood is the fact that lithium batteries contain small amounts of lithium salt, and not the metal in its pure form. One of the main sources of lithium salts is ocean water. The properties of lithium salt are similar to sodium salt, which is also known as regular table salt. It’s not known for its reactiveness, but it’s soluble and a good source of ions.