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100 Posts authored by: andrewklock Employee

 

In response to the devastating floods and coastal surges that Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma produced in Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, NFPA has developed a new hybrid/electric vehicle safety bulletin. The timely resource was designed to ensure that emergency responders and public safety officers are informed and safe when dealing with vehicles that are submerged or have been submerged in water.

 

A recent news article reports that insurance experts estimate half a million vehicles were destroyed by Harvey's flooding alone, with an unspecified number of those cars being electric/hybrids. Hurricane Irma damage information was not available as of this posting but we do know that in 2005, following Hurricane Sandy, there was a notable fire event involving 16 Fisker Electric vehicles that were damaged due to coastal flooding.

 

NFPA's Alternative Fuel Vehicles Safety Training Program is the internationally recognized leader in emergency responder alternative fuel vehicle safety information and knowledge. NFPA maintains a collection of emergency response guides from more than 30 alternative fuel vehicle manufacturers, and offers emergency responders a best practices Emergency Field Guide, alternative fuel vehicle safety training information, relevant content, tool kits and videos like the one below.

 

 

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With the increasing prevalence of electric (EV) and hybrid vehicles all over the world, it is important for the first and second responder communities to be educated on the various unique safety risk these vehicles may present. Since 2010, the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training Program has teamed up with major auto manufactures, subject matter experts, fire, law enforcement and safety organizations in order to address these safety needs.  Through our years of research and work in this field we have developed a comprehensive curriculum for first responders when dealing with alternatively fueled vehicles which include instructor led classroom courses, free interactive online learning, an Emergency Field Guide, and informational/educational videos.

 

Here are a few important takeaways on EV and hybrid fire safety for first responders:

  1. When suppressing a vehicle fire involving an EV or hybrid, water is the recommended extinguishment agent. Large amounts of water may be required, so be sure to establish a sufficient water supply before operations commence.
  2. As with all vehicle fires, toxic byproducts will be given off, so NFPA compliant firefighting PPE and SCBA should be utilized at all times.
  3. DO NOT attempt to pierce the engine or battery compartment of the vehicle to allow water permeation, as you could accidentally penetrate high voltage components.
  4. Following extinguishment, use a thermal imaging camera to determine the temperature fluctuation of the high voltage battery before terminating the incident, to reduce re-ignition potential.

 

For more information on EV and hybrid vehicle safety, we encourage all first and second responders to visit our website at EVSafetyTraining.org to take our free online training and utilize our various resources.

 

For inquiries or questions please contact me at aklock@nfpa.org as the Project Manager of NFPA’s Alternative Fuel Safety Program.

andrewklock

Hybrids vs. Plug-ins

Posted by andrewklock Employee Nov 27, 2012

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With the release of more and more hybrid and EV models, it may be difficult to understand some of their more subtle differences.  In the case of hybrids and plug-in hybrids, while there are certainly some engineering differences, from an emergency responder perspective they are handled the same.

Hybrids are self-contained units that use both electric motor(s) and an internal combustion engine (ICE) to propel the vehicle.  The high voltage battery is recharged through power taken from the ICE and through a process called regenerative braking that captures energy from the braking process.  Both of these methods ensure that the user never has to consciously make an effort to charge the battery, it’s done automatically.

Plug-in hybrids are simply an offshoot of that concept; they allow for a connection to be made to a Level I or Level II charging station for another charging source for the high voltage battery.  These vehicles also include a larger capacity battery to store that extra energy and improve the overall energy efficiency of the vehicle.  In the event that you cannot connect to a charger, the high voltage battery is recharged through the same means as a standard hybrid.  Ironically enough when hybrids first were released, there was a concern among manufacturers that people would not understood that they did not need to be plugged in.  A decade later that concept has become more acceptable to the general public and the plug-in hybrid was born.

There is essentially no difference for the first responder in how we handle these vehicles in an emergency situation.  Both types contain a high voltage power source and an internal combustion engine with a fuel source and should be treated as such.  The only real difference would occur if the plugin hybrid was attached to the charging station at the time of the incident.  In this case you would want to secure the power source supplying the charging station as a first step in mitigating the scene.

As always, be sure to use the Identify, Immobilize and Disable approach on all vehicles and assume there is a potential to be dealing with a hybrid or electric vehicle when approaching a crash or fire scene.

Stay Safe,Jason

MiEV 2

The Mitsubishi MiEV prior to the shoot

NFPA recently spent the day filming a training video while EV Instructor, Ron Moore, performed an extrication demonstration on a new Mitsubishi MiEV. During the video, Ron also described initial response procedures, disabling procedures, as well as showing the locations of the high voltage battery and components, 12 volt battery, fuse boxes and airbag inflators. If you wish to learn more about the new MiEV prior to the release of this informational training video, the same information can be found in our Emergency Field Guide!

MiEV

The Mitsubishi MiEV after Ron was done filming!

As a follow-up to our recent blog post on hybrid shutdown, here is a video segment that clearly demonstrates challenges with 12volt power shut down on hybrid and electric vehicles.  In this training demonstration, a Lexus CT hybrid is shown completely functional.  As the camera rolls, the 12volt battery in the rear is disconnected.  As the camera pans across the rear of the vehicle, one sees that the parking lights and turn signals are still flashing; even with the battery disconnected.  Once back inside the hybrid, it is also clear that the instrument panel and the entire vehicle remains fully energized as well.

 

  Video courtesy of Moditech Rescue Solutions

As the hybrid and electric vehicle market continues to grow, these new hazards and challenges are presented to responders daily. Make sure you and your colleagues are prepared to respond to incidents involving high-voltage components. To learn more about the about shutdown procedures for hybrid and electric vehicles, take NFPA's EV Safety Training online now!

Untitled-1Example of a training scenario involving a collision between a hybrid vehicle and an internal combustion engine vehicle.  Crash-damaged hybrid and electric plug-in vehicles require additional training on proper vehicle shutdown procedures.

"The scene was nothing unusual" the Captain explained.  "The hybrid crashed into the side of the other vehicle.  Most of the damage to the Prius was on the front left corner" he said. "My ambulance crew made patient contact with both drivers and determined that there were no injuries. They were busy filling out the patient refusal forms."

What happened next was unusual for this experienced fire/rescue officer; an interesting twist that this real world incident from Pennsylvania took.  As the Captain was conducting his walk-around scene survey, he came close to the passenger side of the hybrid and suddenly stopped.  Puzzled by a sound
he heard coming from the engine compartment area, he shouted across the car to the driver, “I thought you said you turned the ignition off?”  The reply from the vehicle’s owner, ‘I did!’ was not what he expected.  Puzzled by a sound that resembled “a cooling fan hitting something“, he walked around the rear of the hybrid.  Just as he came around the car, the wiper on the rear hatchback glass operated back and forth one cycle. “This thing is still hot” he thought.

With the driver’s door open, he could clearly see that the dash-mounted POWER button was in the OFF condition; the small LED light was out.  The driver had pushed it once to shutdown the ignition as she stated.  As he glanced across the instrument panel however, he noticed all the gauges and dials were still lit and functioning.  Even the large screen in the center of the dash had a display on it.  Just at that time, the rear wiper made another pass across the hatchback glass.

“I applied the emergency brake and ordered the engine crew to work from the side to see if they could open the hood.”  At that time, realizing that an energized hybrid can unexpectedly move forward, he also had the engine company driver grab two wheel chocks and place them on the front drive wheels to prevent any movement.  The Captain went on to say “I told the firefighters to plan on shutting down the electric system.   I wanted this thing to go dark once and for all!”

What makes this case study so intriguing is that when additional units arrived, it was easy for them to access the hatchback area and uncover the 12volt battery.  Through training on electric and hybrid
vehicles, the Captain knew that the battery they were looking for would either be in the front engine compartment area or in the trunk.  Since this was a crash-damaged Toyota Prius, the Captain directed the second crew to attack the rear of the hybrid.

With relief that the 12volt battery was so quickly located in the rear wheelwell, the Captain felt that shutting this car down was just two cuts away.  To his disbelief, when the firefighter double cut the black ground cable to the 12volt battery and then even removed the positive cable, the noise in the front continued as well as the wiper kept up its regular pace of wiping across the hatchback glass.  Sure enough, his glance in through the driver’s door confirmed that even the instrument panel and all interior dash lights were still illuminated.  “How could that be?” he thought.  “The battery is completely disconnected.”

Perplexed, but not giving up, the Captain remembered that in training and in some of the hybrid and electric emergency response guides he had looked at, there was mention of some sort of fuses that could be used in an extreme situation. The challenge of shutting down this hybrid clearly was one of those ‘extreme’ situations to this crew and officer.  Frustration was mounting and the risk to everyone on scene was clearly evident.

Working from the side, the hood hinges were cut and the hood opened forward.  No one had to stand in front of the energized hybrid even though the front drive wheels were chocked and the parking brake set ‘ON’.  No sense of increasing the risk to his crew, he thought to himself.

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The fuses in the engine compartment of this 2nd generation Prius are clearly
visible once the plastic fuse panel cover is removed.

With the engine compartment components now visible, the Captain started to pull, “all the relays and fuses I could see!” To his relief, once all the large fuses in the engine compartment were removed, the noise stopped and the vehicle did shut down. 

In NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training project, information about shutting down a crash-damaged hybrid or electric plug-in vehicle is presented.  The training, which is now available online as well as in-person through state fire academies, provides every emergency response guide produced by the car manufacturers and explains steps for turning off the ignition and shutting down the 12volt electric power by disconnection or cutting 12volt battery cables. This detail is also included in the latest version of NFPA’s EV Emergency Field Guide. In a situation such as this case study, where doing the right thing still did not give the desired results, knowing about pulling fuses was critical.  Pulling fuses on hybrids or electric plug-ins is not something that a responder would normally think of. 

We don’t pull fuses at our routine crash incidents involving conventional vehicles so we do not think about this special procedure.  With a crash incident involving a hybrid or electric plug-in however, knowing about this alternative; one of our newest back-up plans for hybrid and electric vehicle power shutdown, may be a life saver. 

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The fuse panel of this crash-damaged hybrid is exposed.  Although not normally necessary, responders should be trained and prepared to remove fuses as one means of shutting down an energized hybrid or electric plug-in vehicle

Visit www.evsafetytraining.org to review training materials provided by automakers, participate in the online electric vehicle training, sign up for an online EV Safety blog, and access additional training resources from the NFPA.

By
Ron Moore, NFPA Fire Service Training Consultant
Rmoore@firehouse.com

Photo
        Jason Emery, NFPA EV Subject Matter Expert, presents at the 3rd Annual EV Summit

Last Thursday, for the third consecutive year, the NFPA and SAE partnered to bring representatives from government, the auto industry, and emergency services together to discuss Electric Vehicle Safety initiatives. 

One of the key presentations affecting first responders was given by Todd Macintosh, a GM Technical Specialist for their Global Vehicle Electrification program.  Todd spoke as Chair of the J2990 Task Force - Hybrid and EV Recommendations for First and Second Responders and gave an update the groups’ work. I served with Todd on this group and see it as a significant step in addressing the concerns of emergency responder personnel with the OEMs. This document should be published soon and will act as a guiding document for OEMs on items such as identification, systems shutdown features, etc. 

Other presentations such as Ken Willette’s overview of the NFPA’s analysis on OEM electrical PPE requirements and Casey Grant’s synopsis of the research that the Fire Protection Research Foundation will be conducting on the burning of high voltage batteries gave important insight on the work being done on behalf of first responders.  Additionally, Ron Moore, discussed high frequency, low severity emergencies for the NFPA EV Safety Program, and I spoke about the types of obstacles we must overcome at extrication operations, HEV and EV specific concerns, and on feedback from emergency personnel as to what we would like to see included in vehicle designs. Both of these presentations were geared towards educating the OEMs on operations at the emergency scene and how vehicle designs impact those operations.

I am looking forward to next year’s summit as a way to continue building awareness of HEVs and EVs in the first responder community.  The summit also serves as a way to have our concerns heard so that we can have a positive impact on future vehicle designs.

 

 

NFPA started a nationwide training tour last summer and has already trained thousands of first responders in the classroom. Now the same content is available on your computer. This dynamic online training course includes all the same topics covered in the classroom:

  • Introduction to hybrid and electric vehicles
  • Basic electrical concepts
  • Vehicle systems and charging stations
  • Identification methods
  • Immobilization process
  • Disabling procedures
  • Extrication operations
  • Fires
  • Submersions
  • Incidents involving charging stations
  • High voltage battery damage

The online, self-paced program is designed to provide first responders with the tools and information they need to safely handle emergency situations involving EVs, PHEVs, and charging stations. Be prepared to respond!

Earlier this week, NFPA attended IACP 2012 to announce the development and release of Electric Vehicle Safety Training for Law Enforcement! On October 23rd, NFPA Instructor, Jason Emery, will be heading to New York to deliver EV Safety Training at the New York State Police Academy! 

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During this EV train-the-trainer session, we will be teaching New York State Police trainers on how to instruct the 14,000 troopers, recruits and veterans that are serviced by their Academy each year. In addition to training State Police personnel, the Academy also provides instruction in areas of criminal investigation, forensics and other topical issues to members of other police departments and outside agencies who routinely look to the State Police for assistance.

This is the first of two sessions currently planned at the Academy. This all-day training, specifically designed and adapted for law enforcement personnel involved in emergency response and post-crash investigations, will consist of both a classroom portion and a hands-on component - much like our Fire Service version of the training! Stay tuned for updates to learn more about our other law enforcement EV training products, scheduled for release later this year.

Expo_header
EMS World Expo provides the perfect opportunity to update your clinical skills, learn about new operational developments, test-drive the latest EMS products, and network with thousands of fellow EMS providers from around the world. This year, it will also give emergency responders an opportunity to learn about electric and hybrid vehicles! The 2012 EMS World Expo, scheduled for October 29–November 2, 2012, in New Orleans has over 300 exhibitors and NFPA is one of them. 

Register 3-5 people right now for the 3-Day Conference and you’ll receive a discount off each registration. Register 6 or more people and receive an even greater discount off each registration prices, so act now! Swing by booth #1626 to learn more about all our EV training products and how they can help prepare you for emergency situations.

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The International Association of Chiefs of Police has a reputation for providing top-notch education on the most pressing law enforcement topics of the day. This year, NFPA will be at the 119th annual conference educating attendees on the importance of EV Safety Training for law enforcement. With renowned keynote speakers, forums and technical workshops, and the largest exhibit hall of products and services in the law enforcement community, leaders from around the globe will come together to foster a continuing exchange of information.

The San Diego Police Department, along with city and state dignitaries, will welcome IACP members to the 119th Annual IACP Conference and Exposition.  Music, characters, and a colorful display of police ceremonial pageantry will mark the beginning of the conference.  The opening ceremony and all keynote addresses will be held in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center.

You can also enjoy a truly unforgettable block party in the historic Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.  For three hours IACP has reserved seven blocks – yes seven! - of downtown San Diego for an evening you won’t soon forget.  In true block party style, food, refreshments and entertainment will fill the streets. In addition, whatever type of food you enjoy, you will find it in the thirteen restaurants open exclusively to IACP members and their guests. American, Asian, Italian, Mexican are just some of the dishes that will be served.  Move freely among these eateries and the unique shops that also will be open.  Network as you wander between the five stages with a variety of entertainment, or just sit and people-watch at one of the many outdoor seating areas.    

In the midst of all the fun, don't forget to stop by booth #4904 to learn more about the upcoming release of our new EV Safety Training products for law enforcement. Its not too late to register!

Another EV train-the-trainer session was delivered by NFPA Instructor Chris Pepler in Rochester, MN over the weekend. Now, there are nearly 2,500 emergency response instructors out training NFPA's EV course across 37 states! We've visited the following locations on our nationwide training tour...

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon  
  • Pennsylvania  
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Don't see your state listed? Find out how to attend a training in your area!

Post-top-pluginday

National Plug In Day is coming up!!! This year it will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2012. This nationally recognized day is an annual event intended to draw global attention to the environmental, economic and other benefits of plug-in electric vehicles through simultaneous events in many cities across the country. Events in many cities include a parade of electric vehicles along with several speakers and other presentations. The opportunity to test drive many new electric vehicles is also available in many cities. The event plans to highlight the range of electric vehicles out today as well as upcoming technologies.

Click here to find the closest event to you.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2013 Honda Fit EV the best fuel efficiency rating ever issued the Agency – 118 miles per gallon equivalent, MPGe. MPGe is an efficiency measure based on how far a car can travel on the amount of electricity with energy equivalent to that of one gallon of gasoline.

Honda Fit
The rating for the new 2013 Honda Fit is higher than the previous record-holder, the 2012 Mitsubishi MiEV, which has a rating of 112 http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c317ff71b970b-piMPGe. It is also higher than the Nissan Leaf (99 MPGe), the Ford Focus Electric (105 MPGe), or the Coda (73 MPGe).

When connected to a 240-volt circuit, the Fit's 20 kWh lithium-ion battery can be recharged in less than three hours from a low charge indicator. The Fit EV produces zero emissions and no petrol is used to propel the car. Honda debuted the 2013 Fit EV at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and began leasing the battery-electric commuter vehicle to customers in select California and Oregon markets this summer, followed by an East Coast rollout in 2013.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Bill Guindon from the Maine Fire Service PhotoInstitute to deliver the NPFA’s 34th Electric Vehicle Safety Training Train-the-Trainer program.  We got a chance to break in their new facility in Brunswick as one of the first formal classes held there.  Additionally, local dealers provided us with a Toyota Prius and a brand new 2013 Chevrolet Volt for the students to interact with.  Fire Service Institute Instructors and local firefighters had an opportunity apply the information learned in the classroom to these vehicles as we discussed specific shutdown procedures and other features critical to emergency scene operations.

 

If you are interested in taking the EV safety training program contact your state’s fire training agency to find out if there are any upcoming classes in your area.

Stay Safe,

Jason Emery

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