Emergency Response to Electric Vehicle Crashes
Category: Fire & Rescue
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip is for our friends in the fire service, and we’re discussing incidents involving electric vehicles (EVs).
What should your fire department do to help prepare personnel responding to electric vehicle crashes?
Not long ago, golf carts were the only electric vehicles people saw regularly, and they weren’t much of a challenge for the fire service. But today, we’re seeing more and more EVs on the road.
Just like other vehicles, they can crash and catch fire. Unfortunately, few electric vehicle manufacturers provide guidance to the fire service on how to safely contain fires or carry out rescues involving their cars.
That’s a scary fact. Cutting through cables hidden in pillars or the frame – or cutting the wrong cable – could cause the vehicle to roll away and that’s never good. Your best intentions might cause an explosion, electrocution, or further injury to victims.
So, what should your fire department do to help prepare personnel responding to electric vehicle crashes? My next words probably won’t surprise you: Start with policy and procedure. If your department does not have a policy and procedure for dealing with electric vehicle incidents, guess what? Now is the time to develop one.
Second, create an alternative fuel response guide. You can access and build on current resources, such as NFPA’s Emergency Field Guide and Response Guides for various alternative fuel vehicles.
Third, train by getting out and look at these vehicles yourselves. Contact your local car dealers to get any information they may have on all the EV models they sell. Take that information and develop drills. Consider making flashcards for different models to improve your members’ recognition of EVs.
Ask dealers if the crew can come by and check out EVs. Look under the hood, look in the trunk, look at the undercarriage. Take pictures if possible. Note how the high-voltage equipment is labeled and where it is located. Learn where and when to safely disconnect the batteries. Become familiar with new models as they come out.
EVs are an evolving technology, and when there is an emergency involving one, you will be called upon to deal with it. The time to prepare for response to operations involving EVs is now.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.