The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and West Virginia University's National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) launched a training program specializing in teaching first responders how to treat crashes involving hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and other advanced-powertrain vehicles. NAFTC has also launched in iPhone app – and will do the same for Android smartphone users – that responders may use to quickly reference facts and instructions while in action.

Electric drive vehicles are as safe as conventional vehicles, but they are different.

The initiative is part of the DOE's Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program and breaks out training categories by four vehicle types: hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles. The NAFTC also offers a durable flipbook reference manual for emergency responders and educational videos, in addition to the smartphone apps. NAFTC will offer online training courses starting this year.

"Because more consumers are choosing electric drive vehicles, first responders must understand the differences between these and conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles, NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron said in a statement. "Electric drive vehicles are as safe as conventional vehicles, but they are different."

The program reflects the expectation that alt-fuel vehicle purchases will continue to rise as gas prices stay high and automakers improve battery technology and shrink the price premium between alt-fuel and conventional vehicles. Last month, General Motors sold a monthly record 1,529 Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-ins, while Nissan last year fell just 326 vehicles short of its 10,000-vehicle sales goal for 2011 for its battery-electric Leaf. Meanwhile, hybrids account for about one in 40 new vehicles sold in the U.S.



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  • 11 Comments
      EZEE
      • 6 Months Ago
      This is smart (rather a no brainer actually). The more 'equipped' a firefighter is, the more effective they can be. I am also assuming that the 'alt fuels' portion will include CNG, as that would require different precautions when responding to a vehicle accident. Having various iPad apps will be of use so that the responders can prepare and remind themselves when the call comes in, and while on the way. With any factory I visit, I always recommend to the owner that they invite the local fire department to visit and review processes, chemicals used, etc., to ensure that they are familiar so that they can take proper precautions in the event of a fire.
        DaveMart
        • 6 Months Ago
        @EZEE
        No doubt the Queen of England recommends the same thing when she visits a factory, if asked. In what capacity do you visit? Is it as a safety expert, or as a queen? :-)
          PR
          • 6 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          "I left out the detail of the rocket blowing up 1.4 minutes after liftoff." Shouldn't have defeated those safety devices?? *grin*
          EZEE
          • 6 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          :D
          EZEE
          • 6 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          I am sure the posters here have silently registered their opinion to the bottom question! :D While doing the engineering/rocket scientist thing, there were layoffs, so I decided to do some interviews. I applied for a safety expert job, because I had not been on an interview for a while and I thought it would be good practice. Didn't fluff the resume, and when they asked about my experience in the field, I said, 'none.'. I left out the detail of the rocket blowing up 1.4 minutes after liftoff.... For some strange reason, they hired me, and have done that since. It is largely fun, with the exception of accident investigations (people like to defeat safety devices, which amaze me...). Been to a lot of fun places, and always cool to see injury rates drop after a few visits.
      PR
      • 6 Months Ago
      The safety measures for EV's pale in comparison for what First-Responders have to know about OTR trucking contingencies. The crap that gets shipped in trucks 5 feet away from folks in the other lane of traffic on the interstate is just amazing. Corrosives, poisonous gasses, radioactive materials, huge tanks of highly flammable liquids, etc. If you think a battery pack in an EV is dangerous in an accident, just think what an entire trailer full of batteries would be like. You name the hazard, and chances are high that some First-Responder has already dealt with it in an accident. There is a reason why they are professionals.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 6 Months Ago
        @PR
        I like to play a game on road trips: "Name That Hazard!" http://phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/DownloadableFiles/Files/Hazmat/Training/Chart%2014.pdf Points are given for accurate description of hazard - with a bonus applied for creative interpretation of how that truck might kill us in the time it takes to pass it.
        EZEE
        • 6 Months Ago
        @PR
        I won't tell you who it is, but that little scion Xb...the transit connect....the HHR....in all 50 states, some are hauling radiologicals on a daily basis. One of the more interesting companies I help with safety. They have full blown contingencies on what to do if there is a major accident and spill. Thankfully, the materials are in a thick lead lined container, inside a padded container, inside a zipped compartment, sitting in a rack, locked down with a cover (for rollover). But still....my first question when there is a major accident is, 'so....how is the driver, and....about that cargo....? No, the containment has never been breached....
      usbseawolf2000
      • 6 Months Ago
      Interesting choice of car in the picture.
      fairfireman21
      • 6 Months Ago
      As a fireman (like it was not known), we do have tons of training on how to get someone out, but putting this on a smart phone? I do not think there is one member on our department that takes a smart phone to a scene. Too costly if it gets broke, and I do not even know one guy that has one on our Department. Our department is volunteer so you may not have the same guys responding due to call time, and stuff like that. It would be too costly for the department to buy one just for this when we may have 1 or 2 per month. All of the cars we have worked with have a disconect switch or lever that turns all battery power off. The problem with that is they are never in the same place from maker to maker so we have to know by what make where it is at. That needs to be regulated by the NTSB as to a central and known location for all makers.
      brotherkenny4
      • 6 Months Ago
      So what would the fully trained first responder recommend to the NHTSA regarding the state of battery charge after an accident, or test accident as it were?