Safety concerns over increase in electrical vehicle chargers in Wisconsin

Firefighters say if you intall a charger at home it's important to follow manufacturer wiring instructions and recommend hiring a qualified electrician
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 9:28 PM CDT
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RIB MOUNTAIN, Wis. (WSAW) - As more electrical vehicle charging stations keep popping up in Wisconsin, like the ones being built in the Weston Target parking lot, so are the concerns over their safety.

On July 13, the Weston Board of Trustees discussed possible dangers during their meeting.

“In the event of an electrical vehicle fire, there are many reports out there where it’s 10, 20, 30 thousand gallons of water. These fires tend to kindle, so we need to make sure that they’re out and properly cooled,” said SAFER Fire Chief Josh Finke.

It’s not common, but EVs are more prone to burning when charging.

“It’s something that we do have to prepare for,” added Chief Finke. “I don’t think the charging stations themselves are as much of the concern, the batteries in the vehicles are our real concern.”

Chief Finke doesn’t know of any rules or regulations, in any municipality they cover, that don’t allow EV charging stations. The only thing that has been discussed so far is placement.

“If there’s two electrical vehicle charging stations that get put in, maybe they’re nearest to the entrance and we make sure there’s a fire suppression system that’s robust enough to handle those types of fires,” said Chief Finke.

State building codes or municipalities could put ordinances into place, but Chief Finke doesn’t see any municipality doing that.

SAFER has not had any electrical vehicle fires, but Chief Finke said they do happen. If we like it or not, more EVs and charging stations will be coming to Wisconsin in the coming years.

“I’m in the belief of people being allowed to do what they want to do. If it’s their own house and they want to have an electrical vehicle charger in there, then more power to them,” said Chief Finke.

If you do decide you want one at your home, Chief Finke stated the importance to follow manufacturer wiring instructions and recommended hiring a qualified electrician.