He was asked by Middle MHK Stu Peters how confident he is that an EV fire aboard a ferry can be safely contained.
Alex Allinson responded in the House of Keys, saying that all Steam Packet ships comply with legislation. He added that they are all ‘surveyed, tested and certified annually’ by the ship registry.
Dr Allinson also assured that for any fire involving a fossil fueled or EV, the staff would be able to ‘safely contain it’.
Middle MHK Stu Peters pointed out that a Norwegian shipping company has recently banned EVs from its ships.
Havila Krystruten pointed to its ships’ firefighting capabilities as the reason for its decision, rather than the frequency of fires.
It said that a possible fire in electric, hybrid or hydrogen cars would require ‘external rescue efforts’ and could put people on board and the ships at risk.
Mr Peters asked if the company was being ‘more careful’ than the Steam Packet.
Dr Allinson said: ‘This is probably an abundance of caution.’
He explained that for this shipping company, journeys take 12 days and the direct land route is 28 hours.
He added that the company didn’t have capacity to extinguish EVs on such a long journey and it is the only shipping company in the world to ban them.
The minister said: ‘Fires in EVs are 10 times less likely than internal combustion engines.’
There will be static heat detection cameras on the Manxman,’ he said.
This follows Mr Peters asking a similar question to Justice and Home Affairs Minister Jane Poole-Wilson in March.
He felt there should be more advice issued in relation to electrical fires.
Mrs Poole-Wilson said it was the department’s role to apply and enforce the current fire legislation and Fire Precautions Act 1975 to all applicable premises in the island.
‘The fire and rescue service has a general fire safety team who are responsible for this and in particular for the fire certification of designated premises which fall within the scope of that act,’ Mrs Poole-Wilson said.
‘The DHA does not have responsibility for the operational safety of Steam Packet vessels.’
She explained the fire service has developed operational guidance to assist crews to safely manage incidents involving EVs.
‘This includes the procurement of large fire blankets, specifically designed for vehicle fires, including electric vehicles,’ she said at the time.