30 July 2021
In the city of Rhaudermoor in Niedersachsen the local fire brigade (FF Rhaudermoor) was alarmed to a fire in two cars parked between two houses. In the beginning 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 did not manage to get the fire in the Li-ion battery under control, only cooling with water from the outside was used.
The fire brigade had heard about the potential of using 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.
In a relatively late stage – approximately two hours after the first alarm, the battery fire was still active, and the volunteer fire brigade Loga/Leer arrived with a Cobra system. A thermal imaging camera was used to localize hotspots in the battery. The tactic was to use the Cobra to destroy and cool the remaining active modules and cells inside the battery to make 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 all 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 a late stage of the fire, the Li-ion battery was completely safe for further handling. Alternative is that a big container is transported to the incident and filled with a lot of water – which then must be handled as toxic waste.