Recently, the Fire Protection Research Foundation held an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Summit, which included a diverse group of stakeholders focused on a review, validation and identification of gaps for emergency responder operational training materials on AFVs. These training materials are used by first and second emergency responders and others handling emergencies with alternative fuel vehicles, with an emphasis on gaseous fuels. This summit was possible through funding provided by the United States Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
The summit addressed emergency activities such as: fire events, non-fire emergencies (e.g., submersion), fire investigation, crash reconstruction, tow and salvage, extrication practices, refueling and charging infrastructure, etc. The deliverables from this summit provide a summary of prioritized needs and gaps from the perspective of emergency responder stakeholders, and promotes activities to address these needs and gaps through all possible approaches. This includes working with vehicle providers to implement inherent safety design solutions through up-front innovative design.
Of particular note, the Summit highlighted the following:
- The need to address implementation of electronic badging technologies as soon as possible to enable real-time emergency event size-up and prospective data collection;
- A clarification of the tactical firefighting approach for the venting of gaseous fuel storage vessels depending on the vessel material (i.e., metal versus composite);
- An address of the need of investigators to re-power damaged vehicles to harvest post event data; and
- A continuation of the discussion on the problem of stranded energy and its long time frame impact on first and second emergency responders.