Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response for Electric Drive and Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response for Electric Drive and Hybrid Electric Vehicles - Final Report" (PDF, 4 MB)
Author: Casey C. Grant, P.E.. Fire Protection Research Foundation
Date of issue: May 2010


Today's emergency responders are facing unexpected challenges as new uses of alternative energy increase. These renewable power sources save on the use of conventional fuels such as petroleum and other fossil fuels, but they also introduce unfamiliar hazards that require new fire fighting strategies and procedures.

Among these alternative energy uses are motor vehicles that utilize electric drive propulsion systems. This study focuses on electric drive and hybrid electric vehicles intended for roadway passenger use, and describes the variety of safety issues that these relatively new vehicles may present involving fire and/or rescue emergency situations either on the roadway or at charging/docking stations (e.g., garages).

The safety of fire fighters and other emergency first responder personnel depends on understanding and properly handling these hazards through adequate training and preparation. The goal of this project has been to assemble and widely disseminate core principle and best practice information for fire fighters, fire ground incident commanders, and other emergency first responders to assist in their decision making process at emergencies involving electric drive and hybrid electric vehicles. Methods used include collecting information and data from a wide range of credible sources, along with a one-day workshop of applicable subject matter experts that have provided their review and evaluation on the topic.

The Research Foundation expresses gratitude to the members of the Project Technical Panel, workshop participants, and all others who contributed to this research effort. Special thanks are expressed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, AFG Fire Prevention & Safety Grants, for providing the funding for this project through the National Fire Protection Association.

The content, opinions and conclusions contained in this report are solely those of the authors.