Last year we worked on a study to elucidate the risk of fire associated with charging electric vehicles in parking garages. This issue became highly relevant when a car ignited in the five story parking garage at Stavanger Airport Sola on January 7, which led to heated debates about the extent to which electric vehicles represent a fire risk and whether they should be allowed to park in parking garages.
Norway has a large fleet of electric vehicles compared to other countries, and as of September 1, 2019, a total of 247 565 electric vehicles were registered in Norway. There is a clear political desire to prepare for the charging of electric vehicles in parking garages, and on behalf of the Directorate for Emergency Planning and the Building Authorities, we have looked at whether charging electric cars in parking garages entails an unacceptable risk with regard to fire.
Based on fire statistics and the existing research on the field, there is no indication that charging of electric vehicles poses any increased risk of fire, and that the regulations that apply to charging points appear to be sufficient to ensure that charging does not involve an unacceptable increase in risk. This assumes that the charging point is in accordance with current regulations and that the recommendations of the vehicle and charging station manufacturers are followed. One must avoid using electrical outlets that are not intended for charging, and no extension cords should be used in connection with charging electric vehicles. Based on our findings, there is no greater need for automatic extinguishing systems in parking garages with charging points than in other parking garages.
There are still many unknown factors, both with regard to fire development in parking garages in general, but also regarding the danger of fire spread to the batteries in electric cars in particular. These are areas where more knowledge is needed to provide clear assessments and recommendations.
The report is available here (in Norwegian, but with English abstract).