Is a HAZMAT Team required to respond to a car/vehicle accident involving ANY Electric Vehicle(EV)? Is this a nationwide requirement? A state requirement (which state(s)? OR - just a suggestion determined by Local Authority?
Well... At one time the wording in OSHA 1910.120 said something to the effect of only Operations Level or higher personnel were to respond into the "Hot Zone" of a leak or potential leak of any DOT regulated material. This meant that everyone who was dispatched to any motor vehicle accident would be required to be at least Ops level trained. I think they either changed the wording or suggested guidance that back off on that as most police and EMS service personnel were not Ops level and many FD's weren't either.
Found this in a quick search: Emergency Response to Incident Involving Electric Vehicle Battery Hazards
The best practices don't seem to indicate a requirement for a true Haz-Mat Team, but it could be a local decision based on availability? Mitigating the hazards once any life hazard is gone may be another reason? Typically FD's are prpared to clean-up simple hydrocarbon based fuels, but those that might be present from large batteries?
EV's contain Li-ion batteries. These are not the same as primary lithium which is water reactive. Li-ion is actually lithium salts impregnated into another material, often graphite and NOT water reactive. It is important to note that if undergoing thermal runaway, a li-ion cell is almost impossible to extinguish. As water is the agent of choice due to its cooling attributes, large amounts would be needed to help cool and limit propagation to neighboring cells/modules. Given that it is not water reactive, this would not require a HazMat team response. The runoff may have small quantities of heavy metals, but likely no more than any structure fire. The biggest risk is the stranded energy in undamaged cells, and the inability to safely discharge the energy. This will very likely lead to re-ignitions over the next hours/days. Given that, there is some justification to allow the EV to burn without attempts at extinguishment if no exposures are threatened.
To tag onto @MatthewPaiss comment, I'd like to make everyone aware of free training and information on stranded energy, re-ignition and alternative solutions to safely approaching and extinguishing alternative fuel fires. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) works with vehicle manufacturers and has developed free safety training for first responders when approaching an accident involving alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs)/ EVs. Here's the link: NFPA - Alternative Fuel Vehicles Safety Training Program for Emergency Responders. These trainings are specific to, but not limited to, the Fire Service, EMS and Tow Operators as well as Fire Investigators and Crash Reconstructions.
The NFPA also offers a free Emergency Field Guide (NFPA - Emergency Field Guide, 2018 Edition), which is updated annually and includes procedures and full-color graphics specific to each vehicle regarding the following:
Identification/ Initial Response
Fire/ Re-ignition Safety Tactics
Crash/Extrication Diagrams & Manufacturer Information
High Voltage battery vehicle safety information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Fire Protection Research Foundation
Charging/ Refueling Station Response
General First Aid
If you wish, you can link to specific emergency response guides for over 35 AFVs manufacturers here: NFPA - Emergency Response Guides for Alternative Fuel Vehicles.
Hope you find this helpful.
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