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101 Posts authored by: andrewklock Employee

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


One of the big concerns consumers have about purchasing an electric vehicle is the time it takes to fully charge the battery. Internal combustion engine cars can take around five minutes to fully fuel the gas tank as opposed to electric cars taking 8 hours on average to complete its charge. To consumers looking to purchase an electric vehicle this difference may sway them more to internal combustion vehicles. However, due to an innovative new procedure in the works, this may soon change.

Better Place is releasing an innovative procedure of swapping out depleted car batteries and replacing it with a fully charged identical battery. The battery that is removed can then be charged and given to the next person in need of a charged battery. This process from start to finish takes roughly five minutes equal to that of its counterpart in internal combustion vehicles.

The process is quite straightforward, cars simply drive up to the conveyor belt and the depleted battery is removed followed by a fully charged battery to replace it. This swap is done very quickly and without even the need to exit your vehicle.

By removing the charge times for electric vehicles Better Place allows consumers to drive their cars similarly to gas cars if the infrastructure of swapping stations is developed.

Ever since we were kids, it’s been drilled into us that water and electricity don’t mix.  When we get to the fire academy we are once again reminded to never use water on energized electrical fires.  It all makes perfectly good sense until you sit down and review the dozens of Emergency Response Guides (ERGs) for hybrid and electric vehicle which indicate the best way to put out an HEV or EV fire is with “copious amounts of water”.  So you think to yourself….it doesn’t get more energized than a vehicle with a drive system that operates of 650v right?  Well there is a perfectly logical answer to that question as it’s all about the circuit.

Car fire

In our typical responses to energized electrical fires we are dealing with electrical circuits that are grounded to earth.  Simply put, if you place your body in the path between the electrical source and the earth or ground you may complete the circuit, and electricity can flow through your body.  Electrical circuits in HEVs and EVs are designed differently as they are isolated from the vehicle chassis with no direct connection to the earth or ground.  In this case, a circuit would not be completed by a fire stream, through the firefighter, and into the ground.

You should, however, still avoid coming in direct contact with high voltage wiring during the firefighting operation as touching both sides of a high voltage conductor does present a risk of a potentially dangerous electrical shock.

Hopefully this clears up the question of why it’s “OK” to put water on an HEV/EV fire without risking an electrical current traveling up the fire stream….just remember….electrical flow is all about a having a path or circuit.  If the path isn’t there, the electricity doesn’t flow.


Stay Safe,

Jason Emery

The same high quality training that NFPA has been providing to thousands of emergency responders across the country is now available online! This highly interactive, self-paced program covers everything you need to know to operate safely around these vehicles at an emergency scene.  Topics include vehicle identification, basic electric electrical concepts, vehicle safety systems, immobilization/power down
procedures, and handling emergencies such as crashes, fires and extrications.

For anyone who has not had the opportunity to attend one of our classroom sessions due to their schedule or distance to the training site, this is the perfect opportunity to receive the training, right from the comfort of your own computer.

The importance of this training has never been greater as more and more of these vehicles hit the streets every day. Take the course to gain important knowledge, earn a certificate, CEUs, and help keep yourself and other responders safe when operating at incidents involving hybrids and EVs!

EV Summit Banner

SAE International and NFPA will again co-sponsor the 3rd Annual Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit October 18, 2012, at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. With the number of electric vehicles continuing to grow so does the importance of discussion surrounding codes and standards. The goal of the summit is to review and refine the current implementation plan for electric vehicles and identify and address any obstacles related to fire and electrical safety standards. Participants in last years summit included vehicle designers, battery manufacturers, emergency responders, charging station suppliers, public utilities, facility insurers, and salvage operators. The deadline for pre-registration is September 21st. Sign up today.

With the recent release of the Toyota Prius Plugin Hybrid (PHEV) some emergency responders have asked how their response tactics would differ from the standard Prius or other hybrids. The answer is basically…not much. As with other plugin hybrids, this Prius model is essentially a traditional hybrid vehicle designed with the ability to be plugged into a level I or II charging station. These vehicles are designed with a higher capacity high-voltage battery than traditional hybrids in order to more effectively store the charge they receive. This allows for a greater use of the high voltage system to propel the vehicle and a reduction in the use of the gasoline engine. In the event the driver doesn’t plug the vehicle in, it will continue to function in the same manner as a regular hybrid.

Plugin Prius

From the perspective of the first responder it will also be handled just like a hybrid, addressing both the flammable liquids and high-voltage concerns at an incident scene. The most notable difference from our perspective is that you may respond to an incident where the vehicle is plugged into a charging station, something usually reserved for electric vehicles (EV). At that point you would handle it in a similar manner as you would an EV connected to a charging station; locate the power source that feeds it, and shut it down in order to isolate potential electrical hazards.

Stay Safe,


A recent study predicts that the price for electric vehicle
batteries could drop by as much as 70 percent within the next 13 years.
Lithium-ion batteries are among the most expensive components of electric
vehicles. With the predicted reduction in manufacturing costs of these
batteries the price of electric vehicles may begin to fall in line with
internal combustion vehicles.

A large barrier in the adoption of electric vehicles is the
price tag difference over comparable internal combustion vehicles. Many see the
high upfront cost of electric vehicles and find it difficult to see the savings
of fuel over several years or do not wish to wait, up to a decade in some cases,
for the return on their investment. This barrier instantly goes away if the findings
in this study come true and we do see a large drop in battery prices as electric
vehicles will be the cost effective purchase from day one.

Two forces driving the decrease in EV battery prices is manufacture
on a large scale and breakthroughs in the production methods used to assemble
these batteries. With gas prices continuing to rise, electric vehicles are
becoming a more attractive option. This leads to the need to produce these
batteries on a large scale and will in turn lower the price for consumers. Not
only are prices on the decline, but the life of these batteries are longer than
ever. By the year 2025 electric vehicles very likely will no longer be out of
reach of many consumers’ budgets.


Ohio EV Train-the-Trainer

Posted by andrewklock Employee Jul 12, 2012

This week, NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training stopped in Ohio, our 32nd state, to visit the Ohio Fire Academy. The Academy in Reynoldsburg gathered more than 30 first responders from across the state to take part in the training—and even two from Canada!

Ohio Training 2

NFPA Safety Trainer Chris Pepler was able to discuss with attendees the key guidelines for responding to emergencies involving electric vehicles, as well as how to consult NFPA’s newly released Emergency Field Guide for critical, model-specific information. First responders at the training were able to gain firsthand experience working with the EFG on an all-new 2012 Chevrolet Volt provided by Coughlin Cars of Pataskala.

After attendees consulted their EFG’s for proper shutdown and safety procedures, they were able to observe the quiet movement of the car as it was in drive—a key hazard for first responders.

In addition to attendees receiving important information about electric vehicle safety, the general public had the chance to see how their communities’ first responders will now be prepared to respond to any emergencies that may occur involving electric vehicles when a local television station and newspaper shared news about the training.

Thanks to WCMH-TV and The Columbus Dispatch for coming out the view the training, the Ohio Fire Academy for their hospitality, and all the first responders who attended for taking this information to more of their colleagues throughout the state of Ohio…and even Canada!


Wireless charging

Posted by andrewklock Employee Jul 10, 2012

One of the biggest deterrents to buying electric vehicles is
the fear of running out of charge with no charging station nearby. This worry
is steadily becoming less of an excuse as more and more charging stations
become available and as wireless charging is on the possible horizon.


Wireless charging may become the standard process of
charging in the future eliminating the need to remember to plug in your vehicle
every night and open many new options to keep your vehicle powered. In addition
to having a wireless charging system at your house there could be chargers
placed in the road at stop lights and parking spaces. These systems could
extend the range of your electric vehicle and help to eliminate the hassle of
plugging in your vehicle every day.

Other interesting applications may be in public transportation.
Electric busses would be able to run constantly without being pulled off their
routes to charge if charging stations were placed under bus stops. And electric
trains/trolleys could eliminate the clutter of overhead wires in urban centers.

There are several types of wireless chargers
being developed with different techniques in use. One relies on a pad placed in
the ground and another placed at the bottom of the car this charges the car
through electromagnetic induction. Another system works similarly but instead
of having a receiver under the car there are steel belts in the tires that
complete the circuit. However with both of these techniques power is lost
through the wireless transfer, up to 20 percent in some cases, making it less
practical until the efficiency is increased.


Saab is going electric

Posted by andrewklock Employee Jun 27, 2012

Saab, the Swedish automobile company that over the past several years has seen significant loss in sales, filed for bankruptcy late last year. However, Saab was acquired on June 13th by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). A consortium that plans to turn Saab into a strictly electric vehicle company.


Despite Saab being a household name it has struggled severely in recent years to maintain profits. In 2006 Saab sold 133,000 cars, this number was down to an estimated 15,000 in 2011. This led to announcement that they had filed for bankruptcy on December 19, 2011.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden is a Chinese-Japanese investment group that hopes by transitioning Saab as an electric vehicle producer it will turn around the company. Initially NEVS plans to focus in China as
there is a booming electric vehicle market. Saab's eventual goal is to be the world leader in electric vehicles.

Saab has a history of being innovative and different. They were created by aircraft engineers and have the tagline "born from jets" as a way to differentiate them as an advanced vehicle. Moving to be a producer of only electric vehicles is a continuation of this legacy.

The company plans to have its first vehicle, a model based on the 9-3, available in early 2014.

Mitsubishi i at Fire Training ClassThis past Saturday, in conjunction with the Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute, John Cannon and I had the pleasure to conduct the Kansas EV Train-the-Trainer program on the grounds of the University of Kansas.  Special thanks to the school’s Director Glenn Pribbenow and Special Projects Manager Todd Miles for their gracious hospitality.  The program was well attended as nearly 70 of the Institute’s instructors participated in the training session and are now qualified to teach this program throughout the state.   

Also, thanks to the hard work of the Institute’s staff the students were able to work with four vehicles during the hands on portion of the curriculum, with almost all of the major types of electric vehicles represented.  The students utilized the newly released NFPA Emergency Field Guides (EFGs) to answer emergency response questions about the Chevrolet Volt (EREV), Nissan Leaf (EV), Mitsubishi iMev (EV), and the Lincoln MKZ (HEV). 

The NFPA EV team looks forward to working with Kansas Fire & Rescue Institute to provide guidance as they start to train firefighters and other emergency responders in their state.

Stay Safe,


With cuts affecting fire departments across the country, many first responders are facing the challenge of how to pay for necessary training and equipment with limited financial resources. Fortunately, cost doesn’t have to be a barrier to receiving NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety Training.

For a limited time, career, volunteer or combination fire departments, as well as nonaffiliated emergency medical service (EMS) providers, can apply for a grant to receive funding for NFPA’s Electric Vehicle Safety training. This rare opportunity is being made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant Program (AFG) is only accepting applications through Friday, July 6 at 5 p.m. EST.

First responders can request funding to put towards NFPA’s online training course—which will soon be available for a low fee of $19.00 per participant—or to receive an instructor-led classroom training course. As more and more electric and hybrid vehicles make their way onto our nation’s highways, it becomes even more critical that first responders have the information they need to respond to emergencies involving these automobiles. That is why NFPA is encouraging fire departments everywhere to apply for FEMA’s AFG program.

For more information or to apply, visit Should you have any questions about the application process, you can contact the AFG Help Desk at 1-866-274-0960 or

If you are interested in finding out more about the availability and cost associated to have a classroom training brought to your department, contact Angela Burke at NFPA -


EFG CoverFor the past year, NFPA has been crossing the country to deliver the Electric Vehicle Safety Training to as many first responders as possible. Now NFPA is providing another way for first responders everywhere to have the information they need to respond to emergencies involving electric and hybrid vehicles.

With the official release of our highly anticipated Electric Vehicle Emergency Field Guide,
critical information is at your fingertips. This easy-to-use, quick reference guide covers all current makes and models of hybrid (HEV) and electric vehicles (EV), and was developed in coordination with vehicle manufacturers to ensure technical accuracy. The Field Guide also incorporates NHTSA’s Interim Guidance for High Voltage Vehicles.

The Field Guide is essential for helping first responders quickly size-up incidents involving hybrid and electric vehicles and determine the appropriate response actions:

  • Vehicle Identification: As the popularity of these vehicles continues to grow, it is critical that responders understand what to look for during the identification process. The Field Guide contains the information needed to make a positive identification of HEVs and EVs at an emergency scene.
  • Securing and Disabling the Vehicle: As with any incident involving a vehicle, securing it from potential movement is a priority. The Field Guide identifies model specific primary and secondary shut down procedures for HEVs and EVs, taking the guesswork out of disabling the vehicle.  This saves valuable time and increases first responder safety.
  • Emergency Operations: The Field Guide contains vital information on how to handle emergencies such as fires, crashes and submersions involving HEVs and EVs.  Also, to aid in extrication operations, detailed images are included that identify high voltage and other vehicle components that need to be avoided. Page from EFG 2

These are just a few direct implications of how the Electric Vehicle Emergency Field Guide can make a
crucial difference in your decision making process at the scene of an emergency incident involving electric or hybrid vehicles. Order your copy today.

Stay safe,



Crash Involving the Volt

Posted by andrewklock Employee Jun 5, 2012


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.

Stay Safe,


The June 2012 issue of NFPA's "EV Safety Training News" is now available. In this issue:

Sign up today to receive our free monthly e-newsletter. It will keep you up to date on the latest information on NFPA’s project to help firefighters and other first responders prepare for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road in the United States.

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