Milford passes ban on certain electric vehicle charging stations


MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Milford has passed a first-of-its-kind ordinance that bans certain electric vehicle charging stations.

Officials said the ban is because there are concerns about fires at underground charging stations.

“If you’re able to have [the charging station] above [ground], we have a better chance of extinguishing the fire and saving the structure,” Milford Deputy Fire Marshal Timothy Suden said.

Suden, who pushed for the ordinance, said he is not against EVs.

“Yes, we love green technology,” Suden said. “We’re all for it. I want to save this planet.”

He adds the move is, in part, because EV technology is evolving at a rapid rate and fire equipment isn’t up to speed.

“We’re trying to get the fire and life-safety aspect to catch up with that technology to keep everybody safe,” Suden said.

Another reason for the ordinance is because gas-powered car fires reach 2,000 degrees and take up to 500 gallons of water to extinguish — whereas EV fires reach 4,000 degrees and take on more water. 

“It takes nearly minimum 20,000 gallons to actually extinguish an EV car fire, up to 45,000 to 50,000 gallons,” Suden said. “You’re going to be flooding the whole building and then having potential long-term effects on the structure itself.”

Milford Fire Battalion Chief Adam Hansen said that above-ground charging stations have immediate ventilation that gets out smoke and toxins. Meanwhile, he said a fire in an underground garage could cause a domino effect, creating more smoke and flames, with less visibility for first responders.  

“Down here [underground], you look at this car right here,” Hansen said. “If this car gets going, it’s going to eventually, if we don’t get here in time, start to spread to the next car.”

Suden says officials in other Connecticut cities and towns are reaching out to him to explore possible ordinances in their areas.

Barry Kresch, the president of the EV Club of CT, said he is not “dismissive” of the concerns.

“My concern is that they are moving too fast,” he said in a written statement to News 8. “EV fires are quite rare – 25.1 fires per 100,000 sales as opposed to 1529.9 per 100,000 gasoline vehicles. Most of the EV fires occur on the road, usually in accidents. That said, it is not impossible that a fire could occur, and an EV fire is harder to handle than one in a gas vehicle.”

He added that the requests should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“I would prefer not to foreclose the use of underground space which has the potential to be of great use, particularly in dense areas, as the build out of EV infrastructure progresses,” he said.


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