First responders train with GM to handle EV emergencies

gm-ev-first-responder-training-02 A firefighter from the Illinois Fire Service Institute demonstrates occupant extraction best practices for EVs by cutting interior structural components of a GMC HUMMER EV Pickup. First responders are being taught to look out for orange-colored wiring that indicates high voltage.
A yellow sticker provides guidance on where to disable a vehicle’s standard 12-volt circuit and is a new industry practice to aid first responders. GM’s training includes guidance on doing this more sparingly to keep battery management systems active.
gm-first-responder-ev-safety-training 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.
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General Motors hosted two days of training exercises in Thornburg, Virginia, this week, teaching local first responders how to safely handle electric vehicle fires and crashes.

“We’re hoping to put to rest many of the fears and dispel some of the misconceptions about electrified vehicles” among rescuers, said Joseph McLaine, General Motors global product safety and systems engineer.



The training exercises took place at Dominion Raceway in Thornburg and involved dozens of the region’s fire and police agencies. An FBI team came by to observe, McLaine said.

One common misconception is that water can be dangerous around an EV battery during a fire.

“We say in all of our rescue documents, copious amounts of water need to be applied,” McLaine said.

Emergency workers got to look at a Chevy Bolt that caught fire. That model has been the subject of a recall because of a battery defect that’s been blamed on supplier LG.

First responders also checked out a GMC Hummer EV that crashed, so they could learn where to safely cut to get someone out of the vehicle.

“The color orange identifies things that may be under hood or in locations of the vehicle that we do not want first responders interacting with,” McLaine said.

In a news release, GM said the National Fire Protection Association “has led its own education efforts around EVs with 300,000 first responders but estimates there are more than 800,000 additional members of the community that need further training.”

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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