Electric car charging points: How to minimise fire risks

As a specialist insurer, with many sustainability-conscious brokers and policyholders, we have already had many enquiries since the announcement by the government that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2030, about the provision of charging points for electric vehicles.

Many people are already embracing the opportunity to help minimise their carbon footprint through the use of electric vehicles (or EVs), which of course require charging points, often found in premises’ car parks due to the convenience.

As with any electrical installation, and especially for one that tends to sit outside and be used by the general public, having these charging points brings a certain level of risk to the premises. Luckily there are things you can do to help minimise this risk.

In this article we will share general advice on how you can provide an increasingly necessary opportunity for drivers to charge their electric vehicles in a safe way for all.

A growing demand for charging ports

There’s already a large number of zero emission electric and hybrid vehicles on the UK’s roads (according to research published by the RAC), with demand growing all the time. This has led to a surge in the number of parking locations installing charging ports to keep up with the increasing demand from drivers.

Each vehicle’s battery size and the speed of the charging point means that the time needed to charge an EV can be between 30 minutes and several hours. This extended period of time where an electrical connection is largely left unsupervised and often exposed to the elements, if not properly managed, could pose significant fire safety risks.

Where to locate a charging point

The location of where you choose to install your charging port is the most important first step. From a purely usability point-of-view, the port needs space around it to actually park the car and use the machine. If you have the option, we suggest placing your charging point in the open air, not an enclosed area. This will help minimise the potential for fire spreading within the car park, as well as decreasing the risk of overheating.

Be mindful of the charging port’s location in relation to any other flammable or combustible materials that could lead to further danger should a fire occur.

Train your personnel

There are a few things you can teach your staff or volunteers that’ll hugely decrease the risk you’re exposed to. Personnel should be trained on how to carry out a visual inspection and who they should report any damaged equipment to. This simple step could save catastrophic consequences if left unchecked.

You should also have a named individual who knows how to isolate the power to the charging equipment if needed. Make sure this is someone who is regularly at your premises or at least close by so they can be there at a moments notice.

All personnel should know the emergency procedure, including how to raise the alarm and evacuate the area. This should be part of your general safety planning and practices.

Safe installation

When it comes to installing and maintaining the charging port, this is not somewhere you should try and cut costs by cutting corners. Employ qualified people who know what they are doing in all aspects of installing and maintaining this equipment, it could have a huge impact on your fire risk.

A visual reminder of the appropriate use of the port should be prominent and visible to any user. The sign should clearly explain which spot is to be used with which charging point, and what vehicles it’s suitable to charge. It should also say that the manufacturer should be contacted immediately if the battery appears to be overheating.

Where rapid charging points are provided, they should be clearly differentiated between those and a conventional charging point, due to the hazards associated with the direct current.

Have more questions?

As an insurance provider, Ansvar is always keen to share ways in which you can minimise your risk and operate in as safe a manner as possible. We hope you have found this article helpful in highlighting some of the key areas to consider when it comes to installing charging points and what that can mean for fire safety.

If you do have any more questions or you would like further details about Ansvar insurance, please contact your insurance broker.

Sarah Cox is the Managing Director of charity and faith insurance specialist, Ansvar, the sponsors of this piece.

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