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Guidance for Fire Safety when installing EV chargers and supporting infrastructure in buildings

11 months ago

Guidance for Fire Safety when installing EV chargers and supporting infrastructure in buildings


New buildings: Installing EV charging equipment or readiness infrastructure at the time of construction.

Updates to the National Construction Code mean that new apartment buildings will need to be built EV-ready.

This includes the need for apartment buildings with car parks to have sufficient electrical distribution boards installed to support a future where every car parking space in the building includes an EV charger.

With apartments built to last for decades and the automotive sector transitioning to electric, this regulatory change is an important step in preparing for our EV future. Before the buildings going up today reach the end of their design lives, we expect almost all cars to be electric.

EVC members who manufacture distribution boards and supply and install EV charging equipment are well across these new requirements and are ready to help builders and developers meet them.

Fire safety related to EVs has been addressed by various stakeholders and the breadth of global evidence shows an EV is more fire safe than a petrol car. In a new build, it’s typically necessary for a developer to go through a consent process with their local fire service, which includes consideration of elements of the building that pose a fire risk.

To address these issues, the ABCB advisory note on EV charging recognises EVs’ relative safety, and goes on to detail several low-cost, low-impact risk mitigation strategies, developed by industry experts, for mitigating risk in car park environments.

To support developers seeking to make ready for EVs in their buildings, the EVC has compiled a short list of fire engineering consultancies who have shown an investment in developing proficiency in managing perceived fire risk issues relating to EVs in an evidence-based way.

 

If you’re a fire engineering consultant wishing to be listed here as supporting the transition to EVs, please let us know.

For those interested, further material relevant to this issue is available here:

EV FireSafe research providing an overview of global EV battery fire incidents

EVC submission to ACCC Lithium Ion Battery Safety consultation

Established buildings: Retrofitting EV charging equipment or supporting electrical infrastructure in established buildings

 

Current regulations do not generally require involvement from building surveyors, fire engineers, or the local fire services in the installation of EV charging equipment or supporting electrical infrastructure in existing buildings.

The EVC recommends building owners and operators engage with suitably skilled organisations in this domain:

  • for simple installations this may be a local electrician,
  • for more complex installations, many of the EVCs members are experienced in project managing retrofitting work of this type.

 

Insurance

The insurance industry and the Insurance Council of Australia have demonstrated strong support for EVs, in line with Australian and global evidence.

The EVC is aware of isolated incidents of insurance companies seeking to impose onerous conditions on buildings that advise of plans to deploy EV charging equipment.

In cases of this nature, the EVC advises contacting a broker to switch to an alternative insurance provider.  

Insurance Council of Australia – Climate Change Roadmap

Insurance Council of Australia – Accelerating Climate Action

Addressing these issues

The ABCB Advisory Notice was developed following a report by EV FireSafe, a company funded by the Department of Defence researching EV battery fires & emergency response. To assist property developers & managers to better understand fire safety of electric vehicle charging in buildings, EV FireSafe hosted a webinar in July 2023 to outline their research & data, & provide foundational awareness of the risks & hazards of electric vehicles.

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