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5 things to know about electric vehicle safety

With any new technology comes the need for firefighters and other first responders to understand how to respond in the event of an accident

By Ken Willette
NFPA Division Manager, Public Fire Protection

Electric vehicles are finally hitting the roads in the United States. Technology that was once thought of as futuristic is fast becoming reality.

The introduction of these vehicles is being met with a great deal of enthusiasm from car fans and the public in general. Whether or not these cars have hit the road in your city, it is hard to ignore the attention surrounding the first wide-scale introduction of this new technology.

However, with any new technology comes the need for firefighters and other first responders to understand how to respond in the event of an accident.

For this reason, NFPA, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, is developing an Electric Vehicle Safety Training program to provide firefighters and other first responders with information they need to most effectively deal with emergency situations involving these electric vehicles.

Working with auto manufacturers, including Chevrolet and others, the trainings will give first responders the information and resources to prepare and respond.

The trainings will begin in early 2011, but here is a teaser of the five things to know about electric vehicle safety and topics that will be covered in NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training:

1. High strength steel is used in certain locations of most electric vehicle models. Identifying the location of this steel is important when it comes to knowing the right tools to use when responding to an incident.

2. Proper procedures for the identification of appropriate cut points for electrical shut-off will be important in the event of extrication.

3. Like many hybrid models recently introduced, electric vehicles emit very little sound and it is important to ensure that vehicles are properly turned off prior to engagement.

4. There will be new challenges presented by vehicle charging stations and other infrastructure associated with electric vehicles.

5. Just like with any new technology, training is important. Firefighters and first responders have always met any challenges coming their way. The introduction of electric vehicles is simply the latest one.

Firefighters interested in more information about electric vehicle safety and updates regarding the full training courses that will be offered early next year should visit www.evsafetytraining.org

About the author

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international, nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training project is a nationwide program to help firefighters and other first responders prepare for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road in the United States. The NFPA project, funded by a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, provides first responders with information they need to most effectively deal with potential emergency situations involving electric vehicles.




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