City Council Requests Draft Regulations for Electric Vehicle Storage

By Adam Swift

One city councillor is again taking steps to make sure the city has regulations in place for the indoor storage of electric vehicles.

Monday night, Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto introduced a motion asking the mayor request that the city’s policy writer and fire prevention department draft an ordinance or special legislation establishing regulations for the licensure of the indoor storage of electric vehicles. Zambuto stated that there have been numerous reports of electric car batteries igniting and causing fires which cannot be extinguished.

Zambuto had introduced a similar motion in the past.

“I’m a little upset, because I put this in a long time ago,” said Zambuto. “I don’t want to be sitting up here where there is a catastrophe and say we could have stopped it a few years ago.”

The city should have something in place as soon as possible regulating the storage of electric vehicles, Zambuto said.

“I think we need to push the mayor to push the policy director to get this done, because they have looked at it for quite awhile,” said Zambuto. “There are plenty of ways to look at how it is being done in California and where it is being done in other places.”

Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri said he agreed with Zambuto’s motion.

“If you saw the news about a month back, there was an electric car fire on the highway, and it took 11 fire trucks,” said Silvestri. “No humans were injured, but it took 11 fire trucks from multiple cities to put out one car, and it burned for three-and-a-half, four hours. I can only imagine if that had ignited inside a building, so I’m in favor.”

Ward 5 Councillor Angela Guarino-Sawaya said she was also in favor of the motion.

“The fire department cannot put out this type of fire with regular water, you need some sort of special retardant that actually goes on the fire itself,” she said. “Then what happens is it reignites, and they can’t stop it at times, so you’ll see them put out the fire, and then all over again it will start in a huge fury.

Councillor-at-Large Juan Pablo Jaramillo requested that the motion be moved to the climate subcommittee he chairs so that councillors could hear more from the fire department and experts on the subject.

Zambuto noted that he was asking for some kind of policy or regulations to be drafted first by the city, and then that draft could be further discussed in a subcommittee.

Jaramillo said he was fine with having the policy drafted first before going to subcommittee. He also pointed to statistics that show a gasoline-powered vehicle was more likely to ignite into a fire than an electric vehicle.

“While I don’t want to say that this is a non-problem, the transportation safety board and the bureau of transportation safety statistics are pretty clear that the risks are low,” said Jaramillo. “Let’s talk to the policy writers, let’s have a motion, and let’s see this come to our climate committee. This is an important piece of the puzzle to tackling the climate crisis.”

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