As the media never tires of reminding us, EVs do crash, and they do catch fire. Fire and emergency service providers need to be trained in how to respond to EV-related emergencies, and automakers and first-responder organizations have been doing so since the early days.
Now, as its EV sales are rapidly growing, GM is expanding its efforts to educate first responders throughout the United States and Canada. The company’s latest EV First Responder Training program will focus primarily on personnel in fire services, providing instruction and sharing of best practices on how to support emergency situations involving EVs.
“Our primary goal is to provide key information directly to first and second responders,” said Joe McLaine, GM’s Global Product Safety and Systems Engineer. “This training offers unique material and hands-on experiences that can help increase responders’ awareness of procedures to help maintain safety while interacting with EVs during the performance of their duties.”
A firefighter from the Illinois Fire Service Institute demonstrates occupant extraction best practices for EVs by cutting the windshield pillar of a GMC HUMMER EV Pickup. First responders are being taught to avoid the floor beneath passengers, which houses battery modules.
GM’s EV First Responder Training is designed to offer emergency responders key information about EV technology and dispel misconceptions. For example, many people believe water is dangerous around an EV battery, when in fact a large volume of water is the recommended method to suppress a lithium-ion battery fire. This program will be divided into both live presentations and other training formats, including combinations of expert presentations, videos, animations and virtual demonstrations.
“The best way for the public and private vehicle fleet owners to rapidly adopt EVs is to train firefighters and emergency responders on how to handle incidents involving battery powered vehicles,” said Andrew Klock, Senior Manager of Education and Development at the National Fire Protection Association. “The fire service has had more than 100 years to gain the knowledge needed to respond to ICE fires, and it is critical that they are now educated on EV safety.”
Following successful pilot events in Michigan, GM’s training and outreach events will expand across Michigan and in Fort Worth, Texas, followed by metro New York City and Southern California later this summer. First and second responders can go to gmEVFirstResponderTraining.com to learn more about this hands-on training opportunity.