Tulsa Firefighters Respond To More Lithium-Ion Battery Fires

The fire department recently trained all its firefighters on battery awareness, safety and response. The department said it also recently changed its policies for responding to electric vehicles.

Wednesday, December 6th 2023, 5:55 pm



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Tulsa firefighters said more lithium-ion battery fires are being reported across the country, including in Green Country.

The fire department recently trained all its firefighters on battery awareness, safety and response.

The department said it also recently changed its policies for electric vehicles.

Now, any time there is an electric vehicle involved, the department sends an engine company, a ladder company, hazmat, and the rescue task force because of the dangerous materials inside the car battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere and are used in our everyday lives, but they can be dangerous.

Capt. Matt Phippen with the Tulsa Fire Department said crews have been fighting fires related to Lithium-ion batteries.

"We've had scooter fires, we've had some hoverboards and things like that,” said Phippen. “We've had some individual just batteries that were separate have issues and things like that."

The entire department recently trained to be ready for any electric vehicle fire.

"The problem with EV batteries is they put off really toxic gases, so we've got to be careful with that,” said Phippen. “Also, they produce high levels of heat, heat that we haven't dealt with in the past."

Towing companies News On 6 talked to said they have not had to store an electric vehicle yet, but they expect to eventually.

"If it's wrecked, you're going to want to cut the battery cables if the fire department don't do it because there's been some cases where they do catch on fire whenever you get them back here to the yard as well, and if they're around other people or inside of a building, that building's going up with it,” said Cameron Haughey with Morgan Towing and Recovery.

Haughey said he has been seeing more Teslas on the road and anticipating electric semis.

His business and others have been trained on how to tow and store electric vehicles.

For example, Four A Wrecker Service in Oklahoma City has a set-up with cement blocks to be ready for any possible electric vehicle fire in its yard.

The Tulsa Fire Department recommends being careful of overcharging batteries and reminds everyone to unplug anything you're not using.

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