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. With this in mind, Grays Rescue has attended an everyday strata building to look at this from a Health, Safety and Environmental practical point of view of HSE.
What does it mean in a practical sense for procedures regarding sprinklers, electrocution, emergency shut-off and most importantly, protection of people and property?
Grays Rescue selected a general run-of-the-mill parking space and assumed, for argument’s sake, that this was the spot an owner had applied for electric vehicle charging. Instantly, I recognised that this undercover driveway is an unofficial path of egress that some residents and retailers will use during a real emergency. With a sprinkler overhead and an EV charging station or, worse, a lithium battery on fire while being drenched by sprinklers, we all know electricity and water don’t mix. These unexpected residents will be walking through a wet area while an EV charger is in the path of fire or on fire.
The powers that be will state, “People should be using the appropriate fire egress and paths.” We all agree, but in this test, we are looking at the HSE, and this includes the people who panic and don’t follow procedures; their safety is paramount as well.
The first expert I contacted their advice for the protection of property was that “cars should be parked further away from charging vehicles”. This is an inappropriate answer as practically; you can’t encroach on another Lot’s parking just because you wish to install retrofitting EV charging equipment.
In caravans and motor homes, some insurers won’t insure your vehicle if you install lithium batteries. I have experienced this personally, so why has the Insurance Council of Australia demonstrated strong support for EVs, without a robust set of rules surrounding this?
Grays Rescue is not taking a naysay position to electric vehicle charging installations; it’s happening. We are instead pushing for a better education and risk assessment case by case to ensure the people who don’t follow the rules are just as protected as those who do.
There seems to be much literature that advises it is all low risk. Not enough procedures are in place when Retrofitting EV charging equipment from Grays Rescue’s perspective.