Firefighters get training on electric and hybrid car fires, accidents

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by TERESA YUAN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @TeresaYuan

KING5.com

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 11 at 10:02 AM

SEATTLE --  Seattle firefighters are getting new training on how to handle hybrid and electric car fires and accidents. Under a new protocol, firefighters will treat every car they come upon as if it was a hybrid or all-electric car.

“We are constantly going to these types of incidents.You want to make sure the firefighters are safe because if they're injured, that's going to take resources away from dealing with emergency at hand,” said department spokesperson Kyle Moore.

Car experts are training Seattle firefighters on every detail of the battery-charged cars. There have been safety concerns and misconceptions, such as whether a firefighter can be electrocuted or if the battery will explode. The answer is no, but there are still hazards. The biggest one is silent engine. Firefighters have no idea if the car is on.

Firefighters will now approach the car from the side, shut off the power and then stabilize the wheels with blocks so the car won’t roll.

"It adds about 30 seconds to what we would've done previously to this power down procedure, but it's 30 seconds that has to be done. We have to do it in order for everyone on scene to be safe," said Lt. Michael Daigle.

Firefighters are also being trained on what to do when an electric car is submerged in water, and how to deal with the high-intensity headlights on hybrid and electric cars. If the bulb breaks, a firefighter could get hurt.

"It's 25,000 volts. It's basically a taser, so if we leaned against it, we could get tased," said Daigle.

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