Why firefighters dropped a smoldering BMW i8 into a water tank

Safety first

Electric vehicle fires are a new reality that many first responders have been unfortunately forced to deal with on a trial-and-error basis. Some of the blazes have served as wakeup calls as to just how difficult these types of accidents can be to control. After a BMW i8 hybrid started smoking in the Netherlands recently, local firefighters demonstrated what might be one of the best, albeit one of the strangest, solutions.

Posted by CarScoops, Brandweer Midden- en West-Brabant took to Facebook to post photos of an i8 that was dumped into a giant water vessel after the BMW started to catch fire. Via a Facebook translation, the caption detailed that the hybrid sports car had begun smoking while inside of a showroom. The car was moved outside before firefighters took initial containment steps. The ultimate procedure was to lift the car and drop it into what essentially looks like a scrap dumpster full of water.

At face value, it all seems like a bit of odd overkill, but that's far from the truth. We've told you previously — again just yesterday, in fact — that typical firefighting procedures involving vehicles with internal combustion engines cannot be used on electric vehicles. The i8 is not a fully electric vehicle, but it does contain similar parts in its hybrid powertrain setup.

Because of the chemistry of the lithium-ion batteries found in most EVs, their chemical fires can take massive amounts of water to put out and keep out. So, instead of dousing a car with water, it's smarter to put it in water, where it will safely be stifled.

The problem with this solution is that it requires a massive container to fill with water. It's also not timely. As more information on how to battle EV fires is attained, it will be interesting to see how many response units adopt this type of approach. Hopefully, a simpler and quicker method is found soon.

BMW i8 Information

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