(The Center Square) – Legislation that would direct the Washington State Patrol to study fire hazards from batteries in electric vehicles appears headed for passage in Olympia.
Senate Bill 5812 unanimously passed the full Senate earlier this week and is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Transportation on Feb 15.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview.
“Worst-case scenarios, are no longer worst-case scenarios, with electric vehicle battery fires becoming more and more common, and that should draw a concern,” he said. “I drive an electric vehicle, yet it was recalled because it had a fire hazard, and there was a time my car was not welcomed to be parked beneath structures because it had that risk.”
During testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee, fire department officials said a typical fire truck carries 500 gallons of water, but it can take 12 times that amount to put out the typical EV battery fire.
Wilson continued, “My bill essentially says let’s develop a standard for this, the best practices for first responders, two truck drivers, car owners themselves, and then there’s the pollution and contaminants that comes from the fire.”
He explained when you think an electric vehicle battery fire is out, “Like a trick birthday candle, they can easily reignite.”
“They’ve reignited on the back of tow trucks before they even pull away, and that says we may need to pump the brake peddle a bit, until we can understand how we handle our emergencies.”
“We can’t say at this point we’ve thought this through, we missed this.”
Wilson said Washington State Patrol will handle this study, and towing and recovery professionals will have a seat at the table
Wilson tells The Center Square, “The city of Seattle alone responded to 42 electric vehicle battery fires, just last year.”
Governor Jay Inslee last year signed into law a bill that set a date of 2030, just 6 years from now, for all newly purchased vehicles to be electrified.