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Charging Electric Vehicles

INTRODUCTION


Arising from the increasing demand for electric vehicles for both private and commercial use, the RISCAuthority has recently published a revised version of RC59: Recommendations for fire safety when charging electric vehicles which is posted in ATLAS.


These recommendations provide practical guidance on fire hazards and appropriate control measures associated with the provision, management, and use of charging points for electric vehicles (EVs). Advice is provided concerning the charging provisions, the areas where this process should be undertaken, and appropriate fire protection measures that should be considered.


(Note: The charging of electric fork-lift trucks is not included is the scope of this document on account that this is specifically addressed in RC11: Recommendations for the use of fork-lift trucks).

 

SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS


The key points of RC59 are transcribed as follows:


Fire risk management


  • Practical passive, active, and managerial control measures should be considered as part of the fire risk assessment for the premises when selecting and designing areas for use as electric charging points.


Fire safety management


  • When selecting sites for charging points, sufficient space must be allowed for vehicles to be parked safely in the designated charging area, and for connection to be made to the charging equipment. Adequate space should be allowed to manoeuvre other vehicles around charging vehicles safely when necessary.

  • All relevant staff should be trained in the safe use of the chargers for vehicles that they are responsible for.

     

 

General considerations


  • Charging bays should be signed and marked prominently on the ground to allow vehicles to park close to the charging point, and prevent the stretching of charging cables. The length of charging cables should be sufficient to allow their use with the intended equipment without risk of damage.

  • Charging points for electric road vehicles operated by a company, together with those provided for visitors’ transport, should normally be located outside the premises.

  • Charging points should be protected against mechanical damage by vehicles. For example, they should be installed above ground level and be located on a raised island, or be protected by kerbs, bollards, or metal barriers.

  • Where multiple chargers are in use, there should be clear and prominent notices at each charging point, indicating for which equipment or vehicle(s) it is suitable

  • Where charging points are to be provided in multi-storey car parks, consideration should be given to locating these in open areas with good -access for fire-fighting.

  • Avoid excessive temperatures and humidity in inside electric vehicle (EV ) charging areas. The temperature of the charging area should not be such that overheating may occur during the charging process.


Electrical provisions


  • Where rapid charging points – known as ‘DC fast charge’ and operating at 500V DC – are provided, they should be clearly differentiated from conventional charging points because of the hazards associated with the direct current

  • A circuit intended to supply an electric vehicle must be fit for purpose and suitable for the electrical load

  • Where a BS 1363-2 (ref. 6) socket outlet is used for electric vehicle charging, it must be marked ‘EV’ on the back of the socket unless there is no possibility of confusion, and a label must be put on the front face or adjacent to the socket outlet or its enclosure stating ‘suitable for electric vehicle charging’


RECOMMEDATIONS


The recommendations of RC59 are published under the following headings:


  • General considerations

  • Charging equipment

  • Compartmentation and segregation

  • Fire protection

  • Emergency and business continuity planning

  • Compliance with fire safety legislation

 

SURVEY EXPECTATIONS


As with most RC documents, the recommendations in RC59 should be adopted as best practice by consultants in the field, not just in connection with mainstream electric road vehicles, but also as regards e-scooters and e-bikes encountered, for example, in blocks of flats, student accommodation etc., and mobility aids in the care home environment.

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