The Hazards of EV Charging Stations

Written by: Andy Marsh Fire and Life Safety Manager Chesley Brown International

Technological advances have been the driving force behind the way we communicate, the way we work, and possibly even the way we get to work. Despite all of that, it is still up for debate on whether it has enhanced our convenience or not. One particular emerging technological advances has been that of electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries, including automobiles, bicycles, and scooters. With the increased production of electric automobiles, we inevitably will continue to see an increase in the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and unfortunately, we will also continue to see the hazards associated with them.

It is not a secret that damage caused by a major fire incident, smoke, or water damage from subsequent response of the incident, are some of the most difficult and costly incidents to recover from. That is why, in terms of risk management, taking time to pre-plan and evaluate the installation of these charging stations is a crucial step that all property managers must take. This article is intended to review those hazards, so you and your organization can make educated risk assessments when determining the value of these chargers on your property.

Understanding the Hazards: Fire and Safety Risks of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

First, in respect to the EV charging stations, there is a significant risk of smoke and fire that accompanies them. So, when installing these EV charging stations in your parking garages, fire protection of the area must be taken into consideration, as well as the placement of these charging stations themselves, to ensure that if an incident does occur, the fire can be contained quickly without spreading and causing further damage.

Another important element to consider is whether the current electrical system of your building can manage the power of the charging stations. Some questions to answer when deciding this would be to determine when your buildings electrical system was last updated and whether the building currently meets fire and electrical codes. It is also important to note that electrical fires are not always visible immediately and often burn in unseen areas for a while, so it is equally as important that certified electrical workmanship and solid infrastructure are in place to support the installation of EV chargers.

A further element to consider is how toxic the smoke from lithium-ion batteries can be. When these batteries burn, hydrogen fluoride and carbon monoxide are released into the air, which can have acute and chronic health effects on a person’s respiratory system.

Furthermore, lithium-ion batteries operate by using a negative anode and positive cathode, with electrons traveling back and forth, passing through an electrolyte fluid that is flammable and corrosive. If the electrolyte fluid escapes due to damage or excessive heat, that’s when thermal runaway can occur, and the fire will greatly intensify. The cell that is involved in fire can cause other cells to erupt into fire as well. Keep in mind that heat is energy.

The more heat the battery is exposed to, the greater the risk becomes or the greater the fire becomes.

Pre-Planning for Safety: Evaluating Risks and Mitigation Strategies for EV Charging Stations

The next hazard to consider, which is growing every day, is that of a cyber-attack on the EV charging station. Thanks to Bluetooth technology, these charging stations are at high risk for cyber-attacks. Hackers are able to disable the vehicles from operating correctly, and they can hack into these charging stations. One of the worst-case possibilities would be if a hacker took control of the EV charging station and was holding it hostage until they’re caught or when the demand for money has been paid.

Another hazard to consider is the potential for trip and falls. While these charging cables are big enough and capable of being seen, society of today is fast paced, with more of our attention being focused on our smart devices, than the hazards that are in front of us. Part of the pre-planning process should include discussions with your insurance carrier before installation of these EV charging stations.

Electrical shock is next up as a hazard to these charging stations. These charging stations have several classifications as to how long they will take to charge. In fact, a Level One charging station will deliver 110-240 volts of charge over a 24-hour period, a Level Two charger will deliver a charge of 240 volts in about a couple of hours, and a Level Three charger will deliver 400-900 volts in a short amount of time. Therefore, a good maintenance and inspection process to note and repair the wear and tear of these charging cables will serve you well.

One final hazard to evaluate is speed. While not intended, contributing to the fast-paced environment we currently live in is the fact that electric vehicles are quiet while being operated. People walking away from these charging stations, not paying attention to their surroundings, may not realize that another vehicle is approaching. Speeding in a parking garage that have charging stations can be problematic and possibly lead to incidental collisions or contact. Colliding with electric vehicles in general is problematic considering that, as previously stated, damaged lithium-ion batteries may lead to a fire.

Beyond Convenience: Unveiling the Hidden Dangers of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Other information related to electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, and EV charging stations is out there. From a fire and life safety standpoint, the National Fire Protection Association and the United States Fire Administration has some of this information. Manufacturers are being requested to provide the fire service and the public the necessary information with the intent to keep us all safe. Take the time to read it as part of your pre-planning process. Stay safe.

Posted by:

Sign up!

For industry-leading guides and analysis sign up for our blog below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Latest News

Picture of a man (Director Ray Strobel) wearing a suit standing in front of a Chesley Brown Flag.

Introducing Ray Strobel: Director of the Waterfront

By Chesley Brown | April 10, 2024

We’re thrilled to announce the promotion of Ray Strobel to the role of Public Safety Director at the Waterfront in Pittsburgh’s Steel Valley! Ray brings with him a wealth of experience and a unique perspective from his extensive background in law enforcement and service to our country. We sat down with Ray for a fun interview to get to know him better and learn about his journey with Chesley Brown and beyond.

Read More

Employee Spotlight: Isabella Mazza

By Chesley Brown | January 3, 2024

We’re thrilled to introduce Isabella Mazza, the newest rockstar on our team at Chesley Brown International. Ready for some real talk and a sneak peek into Isabella’s world? Well, you’re in for a treat! Isabella…

Read More
how security enhances Commercial Property Values

The Economic Benefits of Private Security: Enhancing Commercial Property Values

By Chesley Brown | August 30, 2023

As the world becomes increasingly unpredictable, it’s no surprise that businesses are focused on protecting their assets. While public security initiatives have long been at the forefront of ensuring public safety, private security has emerged…

Read More
Maximizing security with a limited budget

Maximizing Security Without Breaking the Bank: Practical Tips for Organizations with Limited Budgets

By Chesley Brown | August 15, 2023

In today’s digital landscape, security threats are everywhere and no organization is immune to them. However, with limited budgets for security measures, organizations often face a tough challenge in ensuring that they remain protected against…

Read More
An engineer and the safety team walking a construction site discussing risk awareness

How to Foster a Culture of Risk Awareness and Responsibility

By Chesley Brown | July 18, 2023

In a world where new threats seem to emerge every single day, how can businesses protect themselves from the next danger hiding around the corner?  Technology can help. So can guidance from trained security experts.…

Read More
The 7 Step Guide for Building Business Continuity Plans that Work