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Ohio firefighters receive accident training involving electric cars

Noting that hybrid electric vehicles "are here to stay," a Connecticut firefighter who conducts training for the National Fire Protection Association adds that firefighters should know how to respond when a car accident involves an electrical car and the singular issues that differentiate it from gas-driven vehicles.

The association has just finished conducting electric-car safety training at the Ohio Fire Academy in Reynoldsburg, which makes Ohio the 32nd state where the association has carried out its educational efforts. The goal is, essentially, to have a firefighter move immediately into purposeful and confident action when responding to a car crash involving an electric vehicle, rather than wasting precious time being puzzled by the engine, the car's voltage cord and other factors.

That latter response is not uncommon.

"It really poses a new challenge for us when we pull up on an accident scene and we see one of these cars," notes an Upper Arlington firefighter, pointing to a 2012 Chevrolet Volt during the recent Ohio training.

For starters, the cars can be eerily quiet, making it hard initially to even determine whether an electrical car is engaged or turned off. That is noted during training at the outset, given that turning off the engine is the first order of business, owing to the fact that the wheels could keep turning otherwise.

Other focuses include the high-voltage cord-- the lesson imparted being to never cut the cord -- and electric cars that become submerged in water. It is a myth, note association instructors, that a firefighter can become electrocuted by a hybrid in the water.

The training is a one-day hands-on seminar, and firefighters seem highly receptive to it and eager to learn.

It is likely important that they do so. Expectations are that there will be about one million electric cars on the nation's roads and highways by 2015.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "Firefighters plugged into electric-car safety," Ally Marotti, July 11, 2012

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