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Fires in car parks

  • 16-10-2023 10:37am
    Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭

    Got an EV or parking a car in a car park where EV's are parked? then this is probably worth 20 minutes off your time.

    Not posting this to bash EV's in particular, but it does raise some significant safety issues.

    Why do nearly all public car parks have no sprinkler system?

    why are inappropriate fire extinguishers (if you can find one) used in these car parks? Surely there should be legislation to ensure that sufficient fire extinguishers are placed in the car parks and that they are of the correct type (not water).

    Are EV drivers being informed of what too do in the event of a fire? 1000 cars going up in smoke is one thing, but just imagine if there were kids in the car or trapped by smoke or fire.

    Why is there always an immediate media and government response to deny any EV's involvement in such incidents?

    As said previously I''m not posting this to bash EV's but surely because Lithium Ion batteries produce their own oxygen when burning and therefore are capable of continuing to burn even though all the oxygen in surrounded atmosphere has been consumed fire safety rules and laws should be amended. EV's are not going away, in fact we are going to be depending on them far more in the future, so surely it makes sense to address this issue sooner rather than later after a tragedy happens in Ireland.

    Are EV owners being made aware off the additions risks they are subject to if their car catches fire and informed of how best to deal with the situation? In fact all drivers should be made aware of what to doo in the event of such a fire.

    EV's in general are a great idea and definitely the replacement for ICE based cars but they bring significant potential changes that might not be addressed by government of the public in a timely manner. Shouldn't there be a public discussion about these changes??

    Post edited by liamog on



  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,595 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla

    Jervis Street recently too. Sprinklers won't put out a lithium battery fire.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,056 ✭✭✭✭AMKC

    What will? They seem to be a nightmare even for the fire services to put out.

    Live long and Prosper

    Peace and long life.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 7,970 Mod ✭✭✭✭liamog

    I'd be happy if the sprinklers in car parks would put out fires in diesel range rovers.

    Recent fires has shown their is significant risk of having multiple combustion cars in close proximity. Maybe we need to ban them from car parks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,167 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    I looked at this a little while back and there was no conclusive evidence that EVs are more likely to go on fire than ICE cars.

    Now this may change with more EVs on the road and ageing fleets etc. But conversely, battery technology is changing to more stable chemistries.

    Sprinklers won't put out an EV fire but maybe they'll contain the damage. So long as no other cars go up, and the structure of the car park is fine then maybe that's all that's needed.

    Remember the fire at Douglas car park a few years back, where the fire spread across an entire level of the multi story car park?

  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,595 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla

    For me the issue is not that it's no more likely to go on fire, more that it's far harder to put out and the majority of underground car parks don't have necessary equipment to deal with a battery fire, nor is it required. As electric cars become more ubiquitous, it may become more common. Even the risk of an ICE car catching fire are subsequently igniting the lithium batteries in any nearby cars is worrying.

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  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,595 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla

    I think the fire brigade have a blanket that can help stop the spread of an individual battery fire, but it doesn't actually put it out. A lot of times the best thing to do is just let it burn itself out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,123 ✭✭✭sh81722

    Yeh, a diesel catches fire and "has anybody thought of children" crowd is having a minigasm. Have you thought of children when you drive your (making an assumption here that you don't drive an EV yet) a cancer spewing car near my children?

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,381 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    I'm not sure there's any requirement to have fire suppression in a car park. The only requirement is to mitigate the fire until the car park is evacuated

    Since they're low populated zones generally, there shouldn't be a huge number of people to evacuate

    After that, the fire brigade will first attempt to stop the fire from spreading to adjacent populated buildings and if they can put the fire out safely then they will

    Ultimately, cars and a car park are considered expendable. Everyone who owns a car is supposed to have insurance anyway.

    So if your car goes up in smoke then too bad, so sad, talk to your insurer

    As for children being trapped in the car there's a pretty simple solution for that, don't lock children in your car. The RSA even has a safety advisory telling you not to do that and they spell out fire as one of the risks

    So perhaps a better public safety campaign would be to advise drivers of some good safety tips (get your car serviced regularly, don't leave any electronics on in the car when unattended) and advise parents not to leave their children unattended in the car

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost

  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,595 Mod ✭✭✭✭artanevilla

    A lot of apartment buildings are built over car parks.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 4,141 Mod ✭✭✭✭bruschi

    the reason the media are dispelling the myth of the EV being the cause of the fire is because every single fire that occurs, the first thing that comes out is that it was an ev. And even in that video you have, despite it being shown, proven and verified it was a diesel car, he still says it was probably a hybrid. So is it any wonder that media or others have to come out early to quash the enormous misinformation that is currently hugely prevalent for EVs. Every single time there is an incident, the first comments are it is an EV, and even when it is 100% as not being an EV, it doesnt stop people peddling the lies and continuing the scaremongering crap that is always around. When we have seen other major car park fires, caused by ICE cars, have we had anything like the hysteria about sprinklers and other such as we do now when people try to blame EV's for the cause?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,941 ✭✭✭✭josip

    OP have a reread of your original post and try to spot and remove the inherent bias in it. eg. why should only EV owners consider what to do in the event of a fire. For you, it's an afterthought, "Oh wait, yeah other types of vehicles might go on fire also, so I'd better put in a line to that effect."

    I think it's a good topic and we should focus on the actual considerations, not the imaginary ones. You'll get a better response from EV owners if you do. Many EV owners will have already thought about the fire scenarios. Eg. Over the summer I parked our car outside one night instead of the underground car park, when I thought I might have damaged the battery pack.

    I wouldn't be surprised if some multi storey car parks in the short term insist on EVs being parked in the open on the top level if one exists. I also wouldn't be surprised if for example Stena Irish Ferries put limitations on EVs on their routes. Maybe the longer routes. Or again maybe have to be parked on a certain deck. Or maybe only LFP batteried-EVs if their accident stats show them to be less of a risk than their non-LFP compadres.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,381 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    Yes, and there's a big concrete floor between them as well as sealed fire doors

    Remember, putting anything bigger than a small fire out is the domain of the fire department

    Things like sprinkler systems aren't really there to put out large fires by themselves. They just suppress the fire until the building is evacuated

    A car fire, give the size of the vehicle and energy contained within, pretty much graduates to large fire instantly

    A sprinkler system isn't going to put that out. You'd probably need a foam or gas based system, both of which can be pretty harmful to humans

    For some comparison, I was working in a building years ago with a medium sized server room on the ground floor. There were large bottles of fire suppressant hooked up to ceiling mounted nozzles in the server room

    Obviously a bunch of servers running hot could create a serious electrical fire and electricity and water aren't the best mix

    Given there were usually a couple of people working in there, and there was a concerning number of health warnings on the suppressant canisters, I asked EHS what would happen if there's anyone in there during a fire

    Their response was simple, they would leave the building. There's a time delayed trigger hooked up to the fair alarm and after a minute or two the system will trigger regardless of anyone being in the room or not

    Apparently the suppressant probably isn't going to kill anyone but would knock them unconscious. This is assuming they're an adult in good health. Children, the elderly or people with serious medical conditions could suffer serious problems as a result

    The justification was that there shouldn't be children or people in poor health in there anyway, and overall the suppression system would do less harm to the human body than a fire

    However, you can't really put a system like that into a car park. It's far more difficult to control who's in there and there's always some idiot who left their kids in the car while they went to get a pack of cigarettes

    So you don't have a hope in hell of putting out a vehicle fire without risking killing a bunch of people in the car park anyway. Back then to the simplest of life saving systems then which is to get all the people out

    In other words, don't lock children in cars and don't ignore the f**king fire alarms

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,381 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    Okay you need to keep in mind here that it isn't like a car (EV or otherwise) is just going to explode into flames and all the other cars in the car park do a sort of sympathy detonation right away afterwards

    If you look at the timeline of the Luton airport fire, the first report was at 8.45pm and reports said the fire spread "quickly"

    There's no exact time yet on how long it took for adjacent vehicles to catch fire, but social media footage at around 3am showed the whole upper floor on fire

    By 8am the next day the fire was mostly under control

    There is presumably some considerable lag time between the initial fire and the whole building up in flames. If nothing else the lack of videos earlier showing the significance of the fire is some evidence of this

    I believe at no point did firefighters enter the car park to rescue anyone, they were all evacuated initially and the fire department focused on preventing the fire from spreading.

    It's possible that if firefighters had entered the car park they could have put out the fire quicker, but why take the risk? As I've said the cars and the building are expendable. Once the people are evacuated and the fire is contained then there's no need to risk the lives of the firefighters

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,113 ✭✭✭JVince

    Lets get verifiable facts right as too many people seem to get their "facts" from tiktok. Frankly anyone who believes tiktok without doing a basic fact check it utterly stupid

    1 - Luton fire was a 2014 Diesel Range River, The driver had just entered the carpark and was looking for a space when it went on fire. Hence it was in the "roadway" and the driver himself videoed it to have evidence of what happened.

    2 - Glasgow airport fire was a diesel taxi. t was extinguished in a few minutes

    3 - The white kia on a roadway that is also trending on social media was a 1l Petrol kia stonic.

    In the UK there are over 100,000 vehicle fires a year. About 300 every day. About 65% are criminal / insurance related, but 35,000, or almost 100 EVERY DAY are general vehicle fires and usually caused by poor maintenance. Of those 35,000 non criminal/insurance fires in the UK in 2022, just 239 were electric or hybrid vehicles (UK fire brigade figures). In percentage terms that's 0.69% of the fires for a vehicle segment that comprises 2.88% of the UK vehicle market. (2022 Dept Transport figure) Putting it simply, in terms of a vehicle fire, an ev is more than 4 times safer then diesel or petrol.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,941 ✭✭✭✭josip

    I completely agree with regarding the facts J, but in order for you to make your last statement, we would need a more detailed breakdown of the facts, including the ages of the vehicles that went on fire. As you said, many of the fires are due to poor maintenance and in those cases, the older the car, the more chance of the car going on fire. The EV fleet is considerably newer than the ICE segment and we should be comparing like for like.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 39,328 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    Also, our Building Regulations are for life safety, not property protection.

    Sprinkler systems are on the rise, I know of at least 3/4 that have them in new build basements/car parks in Dublin City.

    Everything is designed for a minimum period of time, to get people out.

    The insurance industry might slowly enforce property protection on new builds therefore even further safe guards being built in but the provision of extinguishers for the public to use is not the answer.

    get out, get the fire brigade out and stay out.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 39,328 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,400 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    There's talk in fire safety circles that EV charging will essentially be prohibited in covered areas - as this is the most dangerous time for an EV fire.

    It would spell the end for destination charging for EVs in multistorey carparks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,113 ✭✭✭JVince

    Went and did another check. The 239 figure is "all ev/hybrid fires", so its in the context of the 100,000+ figure, so you could say they are 12 times les likely to catch fire. Though I doubt 65% of ev fires are attributed to criminal activity / insurance fraud.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 39,328 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    Currently there is no hard and fast guidance for EV chargers in basements or car parks. Technical Guidance Document Part B is silent on it. As is BS9991 and 5588.

    There is talk of guidance coming which will have them strategically placed close to ventilation openings and possible segregation using fire rated construction but at the moment. Nothing.

    The same was true for PV until RC62 and other guidance documents were published and DFB can point to it during the fire cert process.

    But believe me, it is something that’s currently being looked at.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,400 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    Funny you should say that. When there was that car fire at the McDonald's in newbridge a colleague of mine was adamant that it was an EV - heard it on WhatsApp.

    It didn't look like any EV model to me but I'm no expert in cars.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,269 ✭✭✭Miscreant

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 39,328 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    It was a diesel Merc.

    WhatsApp, tic tok and FB is the source of so much crap, for once Trumps “Fake News” quote is warranted!

    I had a call this morning from someone who has a PHEV ordered asking if they should swap back to diesel over what they hear on social media!

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,125 ✭✭✭10-10-20

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,424 ✭✭✭AlanG

    Pretty sure our new Childrens hospital has a multi story car park underneath. I don't think EVs are more likely to go on fire but the impact of one seems to be higher in many cases which makes it a considerable risk. Certainly there needs to be correct fire fighting systems in place for the hospital.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,400 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    I didn't think it was, but it goes to show that misinformation spreads easily especially when it has a receptive audience. I personally think that people are happy to find fault in order to validate their own choices.

    I've only recently changed to an EV but I note significant more aggression towards me on the road. I understand that is completely anecdotal and I am the common denominator but my style and speed of driving hasn't changed at all yet finding I'm being tailgated, bullied and having people do dangerous overtakes around me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,400 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    The way this fire expert was talking to me (and he drives an EV as well) was that he could see ev charging being prohibited in residential block basements unless special protective measures go in. The cost of retrofitting such measures would likely make it unfeasible for existing buildings.

    The electric transition was alway going to be hard for those that don't have their own driveway. This could be another challenge to overcome.

  • Registered Users Posts: 238 ✭✭AmpMan

    This "expert" must not know anything about electrical systems.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,400 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    Senior fire engineer, so he knows a fair bit. He'd admit though that he was crystal balling.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,164 ✭✭✭efanton

    I think many off you are missing my initial point.

    But to get one thing out off the way, no I am not biased against EV's. Why would I have made positive comment for EV's if I was against them.??

    . EV's are not going away, in fact we are going to be depending on them far more in the future, so surely it makes sense to address this issue sooner rather than later after a tragedy happens in Ireland.

    EV's in general are a great idea and definitely the replacement for ICE based cars but they bring significant potential changes that might not be addressed by government of the public in a timely manner. Shouldn't there be a public discussion about these changes?

    I think many of the green brigade have jumped into defence mode again. I am not against EV's but its clear that if an EV catches fire, (directly or indirectly from another car burning near it), the fact is they are more difficult to put out as the battery produces all the oxygen it needs to continue to burn. A water based extinguishing system is unlikely to put this out

    As more and more cars are replaced by EV's this problem will become even more significant. Surely now is the time to change planning laws to ensure measures are in place to mitigate a future tragedy, or should we do the usual Irish thing and ignore it until something bad happens and then look for scapegoats.

    Thankfully this occurred in a car park relatively open to the air and not in a car park under a shopping centre or block of flats or apartments as another poster has pointed out.

    Personally I would like to see all future multi storey car parks fitted with both sprinkler systems and hand held fire extinguishers suitable for a lithium Ion fire. The sprinklers might not put the fire out but they would buy time for the evacuation of any people in the car park or building above it until the fire brigade arrives.

    I also think it would be wise to make it law for all cars to carry a fire extinguisher and first aid kit as is normal on the continent.