Bomba comes up with guidelines for installation of commercial EV charging stations in Malaysia

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The Malaysian fire and rescue department (JBPM) says it has drawn up guidelines for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations located within commercial premises. These have been submitted to the housing and local government ministry (KPKT) for evaluation, said JBPM operations director Datuk Ahmad Izram Osman.

He said the guidelines cover the application and approval procedures for the installation of EV charging stations both inside and outside buildings, taking into account fire safety aspects. He added that the guidelines are only meant for commercial premises and areas and does not involve residential locations.

He said that the department worked with the Malaysian architects association, the zero emission vehicle association (ZEVA) and various NGOs to complete it. “Among our recommendations are about the distance of vehicles from the entrance and exit of premises, the appropriate level of the building for installation, and several other aspects,” he told Bernama in an interview recently.

Ahmad Izram said the guidelines were needed to ensure EV charging would be as safe as possible, given the increase in points and installations. He said there are 1,063 public EV charging points nationwide at present, and the government is aiming to increase it to 10,000 by 2025.

Bomba comes up with guidelines for installation of commercial EV charging stations in Malaysia

He said that putting out an EV-related fire requires copious amounts of water, is time-consuming and has a higher risk of reigniting. Factors such as batteries, road conditions, the weather and charging stations are among the triggers that can cause EV fires.

“For example, road hazards such as heat or friction can cause a fire because an EV’s battery is located under the floor of the car. There can also be internal and external short circuits, overvoltage, overcharging, external heating and manufacturing defects, which can all increase the temperature, or even spread (the fire) to other vehicles,” he said.

He said that the department is also learning about how to best put out fires involving battery EVs (BEVs). “Hybrid vehicles use a battery and gasoline combination, but now we need to learn how to put out fires with vehicles that use only a battery.

Bomba comes up with guidelines for installation of commercial EV charging stations in Malaysia

“The extinguishing process for these requires the cooling method because they have a thermal runaway effect. If the fire is not cooled down quickly, it will spread. This is a different method than the one used for regular vehicles, where we usually use water depending on the situation, and it does not take long,” he said.

Ahmad Izram said that the fire department is currently using a conventional extinguishing medium, which utilises water and foam as well as special equipment such as special gloves. He said that all fire engines have been equipped with the special gloves since 2015, when hybrid vehicles were first introduced in Malaysia. He added that the department has continuously worked with suppliers of EV components to identify key elements of a vehicle to focus on in a fire.

He said the department has yet to receive any report of fires involving BEVs, but eight reports involving hybrid vehicles had been received this year as well an incident where four electric scooters caught fire in Kuala Lumpur in April, which spread to nine motorcycles.

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