With fuel prices on the rise, we see more consumers purchasing hybrid vehicles with more efficient fuel mileage. These hybrid vehicles are traveling through every municipality in America. While the hybrid is helping to reduce fuel consumption, it creates problems for the municipal fire departments who are responding to accidents and subsequent vehicle fires. Hybrid vehicles operate using both high-voltage nickel-metal hydride batteries, as well as ethanol blended fuels (issues outlined in another page). In addition, there are currently over 12,000 Chevy Volts on the road and this year, Toyota will begin selling all electric Prius models in 14 states. Both use the more lightweight lithium-ion batteries that present additional hazards.
Although equipped with multiple safety devices, lithium-ion batteries have been known to rupture, ignite and explode. In addition to the battery hazards in these vehicles, automotive manufacturers are using lighter metals such as magnesium and zirconium to reduce the weight in all vehicles to improve fuel mileage. It is well documented that plain water and traditional foams are not suitable to extinguish Class D fires due to their reactivity with combustible metals such as lithium, magnesium and zirconium. F-500 Encapsulator Agent has proven to be suitable for Class D type fires. BOSCH company of Germany, the leading manufacturer of hybrid vehicle batteries worldwide, in conjunction with a German fire service testing facility performed testing on numerous fire suppression agents including plain water, AFFF, AR-AFFF, dry powders and F-500 Encapsulator Agent. BOSCH concluded that F-500 Encapsulator Agent is the best agent for high voltage vehicle battery hazards. BOSCH shares this information with automobile manufacturers who purchase BOSCH’s high-voltage batteries so the automobile manufacturers can filter this information to their clients and responders. F-500 Encapsulator Agent has proven its capabilities on gasoline vehicle fires, but is also recommended by BOSCH for hybrid and electric car fires.