Courtesy of Yakima Fire department, we present this simplified, multi-point bulletin on electric vehicle safety as it applies to emergency first responders:
- Identify every vehicle to make certain it is not an electric or a hybrid vehicle. Many times identification labels can be found on either the front or rear fenders.
- Approach vehicles from the side until they are confirmed off. This can be difficult to identify due to the lack of engine noise. All vehicles need to be stabilized when working around them. Place the engine in park, set the parking brake, chock the wheels, and disconnect the 12V positive (red) cable.
- When fighting fire, manufacturers recommend using copious amounts of water. If the fire involves the high-voltage battery, defensive attack is suggested until the battery pack has burned itself out. If firefighting is absolutely necessary, again, they suggest using copious amounts of water.
- If a vehicle is connected to a charging station, treat it as an energized electrical fire and shut down the electrical circuit supplying the charging unit before applying water. Class C extinguishers can be used.
- Never blindly pierce the vehicles hood with tools such as a halligan. This can cause an electrical shock due to the inverter/converter, which is typically found in the engine compartment.
- Do not cut or disable any high-voltage components (marked in orange). These can hold more than 360 volts of electricity.
- Be careful removing the roof on certain vehicles. The Toyota Prius emergency response safety guide strongly advises against this procedure.
Here are some additional resources courtesy of Fire Engineering.com:
- NFPA Unveils Online Electric Vehicle Safety Training
- Vehicle Extrication: Electric Vehicles and Their Charging Stations
- Extrication: Vehicle Profile: Chevrolet Volt
- Electric Vehicle Systems for Firefighters and First Responders
- Vehicle Extrication: Identifying Hybrid and Electric Vehicles