LEBANON, Pa. — It may not look like much, but a little device could help first responders quickly put out car fires. Specifically electric car fires.
“Any car can burn at any time," said Duane Trautman, fire chief of the Lebanon Fire Department. "It’s just that electric vehicles are so difficult so this should solve our problems.”
Chief Trautman says the Battery Extinguishing System Technology (BEST) will make it easier to put out EV fires. According to Trautman, EV fires tend to be more difficult to extinguish, due to batteries burning small holes in the engine bay.
“It’s kind of like a building on fire and the fire is coming through a little hole in the roof," said Trautman. "You can’t get to it.”
The BEST extinguisher uses compressed air to punch through the car’s battery and spray water on the fire.
“I think it introduces a margin of safety simply because of less resources, less time, less everything," said Trautman.
Lebanon Fire Department is one of three fire companies along the East Coast with the device. The $30,000 extinguisher was paid for using state grants.
Politicians from the county and state level marveled at the new technology.
“One of the things I’m really impressed with is that device is able to punch through a fairly dense piece of metal at the bottom of the vehicle to prevent the fire from spreading," said State Representative Frank Ryan.
Chief Trautman says the Lebanon Fire Department has never responded to an EV fire before and hopes he never has to use the new extinguisher. He says he wants his first responders to be ready, as more people start driving electric cars.
“This isn’t a negative point on electric vehicles, it’s just that they’re different kinds of fires and things happen," said Trautman.