Keystone’s Decatur Owners Association bans electric vehicles from garages

The Decatur condominium building is pictured in Keystone on Monday December 6th. Owners of the condominium are now prohibited from parking electric vehicles in the garage under the building due to the owners’ association citing an increased fire risk.
Lindsey Toomer / Daily Summit News

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove a sentence stating that Keystone Resort Property Management did not return calls seeking comment. Vail Resorts acts as Keystone Resort Property Management and has therefore provided a comment.

Owners of the Decatur property in Keystone’s Lakeside Village were alerted last week that electric vehicles are now prohibited from parking or charging in the garage due to an increased ‘fire risk’.

The email sent to owners on Nov. 30 said Decatur’s design “creates increased fire hazards if an (electric vehicle) fire occurs in our garage.”

“Several factors significantly increase the time required to extinguish an (electric vehicle) fire in Decatur,” the email states. “First, water will not extinguish a battery fire in an (electric vehicle), which makes a sprinkler system unnecessary. Second, the enclosed design of our garage makes it difficult for firefighters to get to the fire with the amount retarder required.

While the email says the fire marshal carried out a risk assessment and concluded there was an increased risk, a spokesperson for Summit Fire & EMS said that was not the case. .

Summit Fire spokesman Steve Lipsher said the organization received a request from the homeowners association asking if Summit Fire advised against parking electric vehicles in the underground garage, which it did not. do. He said basic fire codes do not consider electric vehicles or differentiate them from gasoline-powered vehicles.

“We told them that if they were going to install a charging station, it should be done in consultation with the fire marshal to ensure that, like any electrical power system, it meets the fire code” , Lipsher wrote in an email. “But we have no guidance or authority over charging stations, or the use or parking of electric vehicles.”

Lipsher reiterated that this decision was made entirely by the homeowners association and that Summit Fire was only “peripherally” involved based on a brief conversation. He said that to his knowledge, there have been no electric vehicle fires in Summit Fire’s jurisdiction, but there have been “many fires involving conventional vehicles over the years.”

The email sent to the owners said the decision was made by Decatur’s board of directors. The decision came as the council monitored reports of fire risks when charging or parking electric vehicles in closed garages with attached accommodation.

Marissa Dailey is a homeowner in Decatur who also owns an electric vehicle, and she was unable to contact anyone with the homeowners association to express her concerns about the impact of the ban on it.

While there are a few other parking spots to choose from outside the Decatur garage, Dailey said it can be difficult to snag those spots during peak season. She said that because of the new ban, she will be less likely to drive her electric vehicle when her family comes to visit their condo, opting instead to drive their gas-powered SUV.

Dailey said she would have ‘no qualms if a legitimate risk assessment was done’ that showed safety issues because she wouldn’t want to lose her own car or apartment to a fire, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. the case. She said it is unethical for the board to make a decision like this based on a brief conversation with the fire district, which appears to have been misinterpreted.

“I’m really disappointed Vail didn’t step in,” Dailey said. “We are not the only (electric vehicle) owners of this condo. … No one is happy with this precedent.

Jess Hoover, director of climate action at the High Country Conservation Center, said it’s fair to be as concerned about electric vehicle fires as gasoline vehicle fires. She said electric vehicles are “very safe” and that “fire issues should not prevent the still very inevitable (electric vehicle) revolution”.

“Sometimes when events are vivid and leave a lasting impression, we can make decisions based on that impression rather than the data itself,” Hoover said. “When we hear about (electric vehicle) fires, we may fear that they are more frequent than they actually are. Battery fires are certainly different from regular car fires, and fire personnel must be trained to handle and extinguish them properly.

While Vail Resorts manages the owners’ association, spokeswoman Loryn Roberson said “all HOA decisions and communications come from the board of directors” and it is not a policy or a decision of Vail Resorts.

No member of the homeowners association board of directors could be reached for comment.

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