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FL State Fire Marshal Livid After EVs Catch Fire from Saltwater, Demands Answers from NHTSA By Oct. 14

In a state that’s already been wracked by one natural disaster this fall, Florida Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis wants to avoid a man-made one that might be already in the making. Patronis has already gone public with his well-founded worries about the danger posed by electric vehicles on Florida’s Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ian’s devastation. Now, he wants answers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about what the Sunshine State could be facing in the immediate future — and he wants them fast. In a letter sent Friday to NHTSA Executive Director Jack Danielson, Patronis set a deadline of Oct. 14 for the national agency to come up with answers to urgent questions regarding the threat to Florida firefighters from electric vehicles in the hurricane zone with lithium batteries that have been damaged by exposure to saltwater — and eventually ignited because of it. In the letter, Patronis summarized his own experiences last week when he witnessed first-hand the difficulty firefighters experience extinguishing a fire in an electric vehicle. “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. [firefly_poll] “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 asked five questions, paraphrased below:
  • Has the NHTSA instructed manufacturers of electric vehicles to inform customers about the particular dangers flooding pose to lithium batteries?
  • Does standard firefighter gear protect against gases from EV fires?
  • Should removing EVs from a hurricane zone be a designated duty in storm cleanup efforts?
  • Does the NHTSA have information about specific timelines for the danger from post-flooding fires in EVs?
  • Does the NHTSA have any guidance on locations where compromised electric vehicles can be taken where they can burn out safely?
In an email to The Western Journal on Wednesday, the NHTSA said it had been studying the impact of saltwater corrosion on electric vehicles for a decade — since Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. “Fires in electric vehicles can pose unique challenges for firefighters and other first responders,” the email stated. “Since similar issues emerged with EVs after Superstorm Sandy, NHTSA has been researching the effect of saltwater immersion on batteries, and working with stakeholders to equip first responders with best practices on fighting battery fires.” In 2021, the NHTSA launched a Battery Safety Initiative. According to the website CNET, the goal is to “research areas such as battery diagnostics, management systems and even cybersecurity to ensure future cars with batteries onboard to power the entire vehicle are as safe as can be.” Considering that electric vehicles in large numbers are a fairly new development, it’s likely that the country just doesn’t have enough experience yet to fully know some of those answers to all of Patronis’ questions — which might be something for the Biden administration and the radical leftists who run the Democratic Party these days to take into account before deciding Americans need to junk their traditional gasoline-powered vehicles and take up the plug-in variety. Even the fact that they’re being raised now is just another sign of how the headlong rush to electric vehicle use being pushed by the left is getting over its skis when it comes to EV mandates. The problems plaguing electric vehicles have been and are being well-documented: fire hazards, the unreliable nature of the infrastructure they rely on for power, the hideous expense compared to a used gas-powered vehicle and so forth. Their benefits, such as they are, are a good deal less obvious. They are also tainted with the political baggage of the “climate change” crowd that has a reputation for exaggeration so bad that any claim about the boon of electric vehicles has to be viewed with suspicion. The conservative distrust of electric vehicles is not, and never has been, the result of contempt for the possibilities of new technologies. It’s contempt for their leftist boosters, and the coercive methods they employ (see, California, state of). It’s the nature of human beings to improve material things — at least human beings blessed to live in a society like the United States, where a capitalistic system rewards innovation and invention. Electric vehicles are no exception. But the capitalist system is driven by genuine demand creating an environment for genuine supply, not the top-down orders of a Soviet system. Automobiles powered by the internal combustion engine were firmly established in American society long before the federal government built the interstate highway system. What is happening with electric vehicles and the market-by-government-fiat approach favored by the progressive left is exactly the opposite of that. Maybe without the intrusive government intervention of the Biden administration, consumers will be less interested in vehicles that leave their drivers and passengers stranded when a miscalculation can mean no power, and no means of obtaining power, for many miles around; more wary of purchases that could quickly end up costing more to fix than their worth; and definitely uninterested in buying cars that explode into flames after hurricanes — when they live in Florida or anywhere else a hurricane could make landfall. Those are issues a market-approach to EV development will deal with far better than the diktats of power-drunk Democrats. Patronis is asking reasonable questions that an EV-obsessed Biden administration should have the answers to. If he doesn’t get them, if the administration doesn’t have them, it’s a sign that future problems with EVs can get a lot bigger than the Gulf Coast of Florida. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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