Dec 2023

Evolving Fire Safety Recommendations for Electric Vehicles (EVs), EV Charging Stations and Parking Garages

The rise of Electric Vehicles (EVs) has revolutionized the automotive industry, bringing with it the need for comprehensive safety standards. In response to this transformation, several important changes have occurred in fire protection standards, aiming to address the unique challenges associated with EVs and their infrastructure.

The dynamic landscape of EVs and their charging infrastructure necessitates continuous updates to fire protection standards. The changes outlined in this document underscore the industry’s commitment to addressing the unique fire risks associated with EVs. It is imperative for property loss prevention best practices around the EV industry, including designers, builders, and regulatory bodies, to remain informed about these evolving standards to ensure the safety of EV users and the protection of property.

NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems – 2022 Edition

NFPA 13, the standard governing the installation of sprinkler systems, underwent a notable alteration in its 2022 edition. Parking garages, traditionally classified as Ordinary Hazard Group 1 (OH1), have been reclassified as Ordinary Hazard Group 2 (OH2). This reclassification suggests an increased fire risk associated with parking garages, particularly those housing electric vehicles. This change underscores the importance of enhanced fire safety measures in these environments.

NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC) – 2021 Edition

Article 625 of the National Electrical Code (NEC) contains a comprehensive set of requirements for electric vehicle charging stations. Additionally, Article 220 of the NEC necessitates that service load calculations consider Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). This ensures that the electrical systems in EV charging stations are designed to meet the increased electrical demand associated with these facilities.

NFPA 88A, Standard for Parking Structures – 2023 Edition

The forthcoming 2023 edition of NFPA 88A, dedicated to parking structures, introduces a pivotal requirement. It now mandates the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in all parking garages, including open parking structures. This significant update aligns with the overarching objective of enhancing fire safety measures in areas where electric vehicles are present, further reducing the potential fire risk.

International Building Code (IBC) – 2021 Edition

The International Building Code (IBC), in its 2021 edition, introduced a crucial requirement for fire safety in large open parking garages. Sprinkler systems are now mandated for open parking garages exceeding 48,000 square feet. This requirement aligns with the goal of safeguarding larger parking structures and acknowledging the potential fire hazards posed by EVs.

FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet (FMDS) 3-26

While FMDS 3-26 may not explicitly focus on Electric Vehicle (EV) protection in parking garages, it provides a comprehensive approach to fire protection and safety in such facilities, which indirectly addresses the fire protection needs associated with EVs. FMDS 3-26, an industry standard for fire protection in non-storage areas, has elevated the hazard category for parking garages from Hazard Category 2 (HC2) to Hazard Category 3 (HC3). This change reflects a heightened recognition of the fire risks associated with parking structures, particularly those accommodating electric vehicles. It emphasizes the need for comprehensive fire protection strategies.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

UL has developed UL 2202, a specific standard that addresses the safety of EV charging infrastructure, including components used in parking garages. This standard covers safety requirements for EV charging system equipment. It addresses the design, construction, and testing of EV charging equipment to ensure that it is safe for use in various environments, including parking garages. UL conducts comprehensive testing of EV charging equipment to assess its fire protection and safety features. This testing includes evaluations of components like charging connectors, cables, and enclosures to ensure they can withstand potential fire hazards. UL conducts hazard analysis for EV charging infrastructure within parking garages. This analysis assesses the potential fire and safety risks associated with EV charging equipment, taking into consideration factors such as electrical faults and overheating.

UL’s approach aligns with relevant National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, including NFPA 13 (Sprinkler Systems) and NFPA 88A (Parking Structures). UL ensures that EV charging equipment and infrastructure meet or exceed these standards to enhance fire protection in parking garages.

Risk Logic Inc.

When it comes to fire protection and safety in parking garages with electric vehicles (EVs) and charging stations, there are several considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Hazard Assessment: Parking garages with EV charging stations should undergo a hazard assessment to identify potential fire risks associated with lithium-ion batteries and electrical systems. This assessment can help determine the appropriate level of fire protection.
  2. Fire Suppression: While NFPA 13 primarily deals with the installation of sprinkler systems in buildings, it may not provide specific guidance for EV-related fire protection. It’s essential to work with fire protection engineers who can design and install appropriate fire suppression systems tailored to the specific risks in the garage.
  3. Electrical Safety: NFPA 88A focuses on parking structures. However, it may not address the electrical safety aspects related to EV charging stations. Electrical codes and standards, such as NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code), will likely play a role in ensuring the safe installation and operation of charging equipment.
  4. Property Damage Mitigation: Significant property damage can result from fires in parking garages. Adequate fire protection measures should be in place to minimize property damage, including fire-rated construction materials, proper ventilation systems, and fire-resistant barriers.
  5. Emergency Response Plans: Develop and implement emergency response plans specific to EV fires in parking garages. This includes training for facility personnel and coordination with local fire departments.

For more information about potential EV exposures at your facility or for a property risk assessment, please contact Risk Logic.