Here’s yet more evidence that innovation in the world of vehicles frequently comes from the people who race them. As electric vehicles grow in number, the global fire service has been experimenting with ways to control vehicle fires when EVs are involved, a circumstance that’s only going to become increasingly more commonplace. It’s not easy to control a fire involving lithium ion batteries, especially in a confined space such as a parking garage. Prospeed Motorsport of York in England has come up with a sophisticated solution, the new HILOAD 6X6 Rapid Intervention Vehicle, a six-wheel compact fire truck that’s specifically engineered to handle EV fires.
Based on the Toyota Hilux, which the firm’s compact pickup is called outside North America, the HILOAD 6X6 is designed directly to fight what’s known as “thermal runaway,” as heat damages and breaks down the EV’s battery pack. The fire truck is equipped with a new firefighting system called the Coldcut Cobra, which uses an abrasive suspended in water to cut through the outer layer of the battery pack. An extreme high-pressure water jet, with more than 100 times the pressure of an inflated car tire, then cools the lithium ion compounds to prevent thermal runaway from occurring. Vehicle fires are a big part of a fire department’s common duties today; this vehicle will advance that practice to keep pace with onrushing battery technology.