In the city of Rhaudermoor in Niedersachsen, the local fire brigade, FF Rhaudermoor, was called to a fire. Two cars parked between two houses had caught fire. Initially, there was no information that one of the cars was a full electrical vehicle (EV). The fire brigade managed to extinguish the fire in a conventional way, but struggled to get the fire in the Li-ion battery under control. External water cooling was their only tactic at this stage.
The fire brigade had heard about the potential of using a Cobra cutting extinguisher to cool the battery fire from the inside. They requested reinforcements from the volunteer fire brigade in Loga/Leer, which has a Cobra.
Relatively late, approximately two hours after the first alarm, the battery fire was still active. Then, the volunteer fire brigade Loga/Leer arrived with their Cobra system. Using a thermal imaging camera, they localised the hotspots in the battery. Their tactic was to use the Cobra to destroy and cool the remaining active modules and cells inside the battery, making it safe for further handling and transport.
Dominik Janßen, Loga/Leer fire brigade, says in an interview: “The car itself already contains a relatively large amount of fire protection, so it is relatively difficult to reach every part of the Li-ion battery. So far, it has only been possible to achieve this in trials, so it works now for the first time on the EV car that caught fire […]. To reach more battery cells, we are now making some space in the car, but it will work. The operation will take much longer than normal car fires […].”
The Cobra tactic worked out well, and after this intervention in the late stage of the fire, the Li-ion battery was completely safe for further handling. The alternative is that a big container is transported to the incident and filled with a lot of water. This water, however, must be handled as toxic waste afterwards.
Benefits of using Cobra at this incident
- Possible to stabilise the battery to make it safe for further handling.
- Limits water use.
- Less contaminated water run-off.