General Motors is significantly expanding its efforts to educate public safety, fire, and emergency service providers throughout the U.S. and Canada as electric vehicle (EV) sales grow.
The company’s latest EV First Responder Training program will focus on personnel in fire services, providing instruction and sharing of best practices on how to effectively support emergency situations involving EVs.
This program, though directly focused on responders, also benefits drivers involved in incidents, and continues GM-led education efforts that began more than a decade ago with the introduction of the Chevrolet Volt.
“Our primary goal is to provide key information directly to first and second responders,” said Joe McLaine, GM global product safety and systems engineer, and leader of the training effort. “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.”
The GM training effort offers emergency responders key information about battery electric vehicle technology, dispel misconceptions and share important industry best practices for handling electric and electrified (hybrid) vehicles safely in multiple situations. 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.
Training materials and curriculum have been developed with key active members of public safety communities and is delivered over a four-hour block of instruction, with up to two sessions per day in major markets, across multiple venues such as fire houses, training academies, regional learning centers or dealerships.
After completing the hands-on training, attendees will receive a Certificate of Completed Training offered through the Illinois Fire Service Institute, the only nonprofit, state-funded fire safety organization in the U.S.
“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 (NFPA). “The fire service has had more than 100 years to gain the knowledge needed to respond to internal combustion engine fires, and it is critical that they are now educated on EV safety.”
The NFPA has led its own education efforts around EVs with 300,000 first responders but estimates more than 800,000 additional community members need further training.
GM also aims to teach first and second responders how to approach an emergency scene with as much information as possible, including information from OnStar’s available Automatic Crash Response and Injury Severity Prediction, which can inform responders if an incident involves an EV.
More information on the training program for first and second responders is available on the GM website.