Fire Dept guidelines for commercial EV charging stations ready

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PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) has come up with guidelines for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations located within commercial premises nationwide.

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JBPM Operations director Datuk Ahmad Izram Osman said the guidelines have been submitted to the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) for evaluation and will be announced later.

“We worked with the Malaysian Architects Association, the Zero Emission Vehicle Association (ZEVA) and various non-governmental organisations to complete it.

“Among our recommendations are about the distance of vehicles from entrance and exit of premises, the appropriate level of the building for installation and several other aspects,” he said when met by Bernama recently.

He said the guidelines cover the application and approval procedures for the installation of EV charging stations both inside and outside buildings, taking into account fire safety aspects.

Ahmad Izram said that the guidelines are meant for commercial premises and areas only and did not involve residential locations.

He said there are 1,063 EV charging stations nationwide at present and the government expects it to increase to 10,000 by 2025.

Meanwhile, he said putting out an EV-related fire requires copious amounts of water, is time-consuming and has higher risks of reigniting.

He said, batteries, road conditions, the weather and charging stations are among the triggers that can cause EV fires.

“For example, road hazards such as heat or friction can cause a fire because an electric vehicle’s battery is located under the floor of the car.

“There can also be internal and external short circuits, overvoltage, overcharging, external heating and manufacturing defects, which can all heat the temperature or even spread to other vehicles,” he said.

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Ahmad Izram said that JBPM is currently using conventional extinguishing medium, which is water and foam as well as a few special equipment, such as special gloves.

He said that all JBPM fire engines have been equipped with the special gloves since 2015 when hybrid vehicles were first introduced in Malaysia.

“Hybrid vehicles use a battery and gasoline combination, but now we need to learn how to put out fires with vehicles that use only a battery.

“The extinguishing process for electric vehicles requires the cooling method because they have the thermal runaway effect. If the fire is not cooled down quickly, it will spread. This is a different method than the one used for regular vehicles, where we usually use water depending on the situation and it does not take long,” he said.

He said, so far the department has not received any report involving electric vehicles, but eight reports involving hybrid vehicles have been received this year.

There was also a report of four electric scooters catching fire in Kuala Lumpur in April which spread to nine motorcycles, he said.

Ahmad Izram said the department always worked with suppliers of electric vehicle components to identify the parts of the vehicle, which can later help with putting out fires when needed.

“JBPM is always prepared for any possibility of fire involving electric vehicles. We will use our existing equipment as well as continue raising public awareness on the matter,” he said.

Previously, the Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz was reported as saying that to expand the EV ecosystem in the country, the installation of more EV charging stations needs to be the primary focus with a target of 10,000 EV charging stations by 2025. – Bernama


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