In light of the negative publicity electric vehicles have received over the last few months regarding their involvement with fires; it is interesting to note the outcome of a recent crash in upstate New York. On May 18 in Geneseo, NY a Toyota Camry traveling at a high rate of speed struck a Chevrolet Volt and another vehicle parked in a driveway. As you can see from the picture of the crash, the damage to the Volt was extensive, especially on the driver’s side. The Camry, a conventional vehicle, caught fire as a result of the crash and was extinguished by an off duty police officer prior to the Fire Department’s arrival. The Volt, however, did not experience a crash related fire.
This incident is a reminder to first responders that all vehicles come with potential hazards that must be addressed. It is also important to note that the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) does not believe that electric vehicles present any greater risk of fire than conventional ones. As for a response to a severe crash such as this involving and electric or hybrid vehicles, there are some procedures to follow. NHSTA, with assistance from the NFPA, has developed guidelines to deal with damaged vehicles equipped with lithium-ion batteries. Responders should familiarize themselves with these guidelines and be prepared to pass them along to other personnel, such as the wrecker operators involved in the scene.