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  • New Gas Electric Cars

    I have purchased a new Honda Insight. It is a gas/electric hybrid vehicle. tThe batteries have a 144 volt charge to them. Has anyone seen anything on the techniques that should be used when this vehicle is involved in an accident?

  • #2
    We do a 3.5 hour training program that deals with many types of alternative fuel vehicles. And fortunately we have had the chance to deal specifically with the Insight, as on of our local citizens provided us with his to use during the (non-destructive) training. (It is a very COOL car!) As with a lot of other issues the fire service is faced with , I feel it is important to focus on some general guidelines rather than specifics. How do we identify AFVs, what are the general components, how do they work together, what are the general hazards, what are safety procedures for spills, PDCs, and fire scenarios.

    In most cases, we can follow basic standard protocols and be safe. Overview your scene, which includes determining the fuel type, location and status. Make sure it is off. If you don't know what it is or does, ask or don't mess with it. Don't stick you hand into a liquid substance to see what it is. If someone gets contaminated, street medicine tells us to decon with water, rather than try to "neutralize" it there. If the car is on fire, put it out. Only if the battery pack is on fire will it object to your water application, and even then you may be able to overwhelm it. If it fights back, let it burn and deal with the smoke (shouldn't we at any car fire?).

    Its basics, with an emphasis on knowing whats out there, that things are changing, and applying simple principles.


    • #3
      Our Department hasn't had ny actual dealings with any of the "hybrid" (gas/electric) vehicles as of yet, and so we are very interested in any "real life" extrication experiences. Toyota recently forwarded a "Emergenct Response Guide" to our Department outlining the hazards associated with their "Prius" hybrid vehicle which operates with a system of just under 300 volts. The guide covers general response issues such as a spill of the electrolyte (potassium hydroxide), fire extinguishment and so on. I'm sure the Honda system is different enough to give us the sense that, like airbag systems, there will be no commonality between manufacturers, such that our job as rescuers has just become even more complex and demanding. If anyone has any specifics...lets hear about your experieces...BE SAFE!


      • #4
        The Hybrid Vehicle (HV)
        We have started to make some progress in the area of responder awareness and considerations with at least one automobile manufacturer; Toyota Motor Company.

        As most of you probably know Toyota also has a hybrid vehicle called the Prius. This differs slightly in that the high voltage electrical system in the Honda Insight. The Prius uses a higher voltage which is just under 300v. The battery system is nickel metal hydride (NiMH), the developer of the battery system is Panasonic.

        This week while doing research on the NiMH battery used in the Prius, I received a reply email from Panasonic. While Panasonic wishes to help responders, they prefer to work directly through the Toyota Motor Company. So at this time there is very little information including which battery is used, other than what is available on their web site. If you request information as I have about the battery hazards and reactivity, you will be directed back to the automobile manufacturer.

        For departments that are familiar with the previsions of the "Right to Know", this will assist you. There may be some red tape and time delay involved, but the manufacturer will have to comply by law.

        As with the Honda or other hybrid vehicles, the way we now perform extrication, fire suppression and spill control may change drastically.

        There are some unanswered questions in regards to power disconnect, hazardous nature of spills, cut and no cut zones, and what is the best extinguishing agent and method of fire control.

        Reactivity with the battery substance is also a concern since dealerships have been releasing an emergency guideline to fire departments. The guideline warns of reactivity to body parts and leather products. It is safe to say that 100 percent of all firefighters will have leather products (gloves or boots) on scene.

        At first glance, the guideline might have responders think it was intended as an emergency response guide for the fire service. However, this was not the case, the guideline was intended for the Toyota service personnel to deal with a localize incident or until the fire department arrived. It was not intended to have been released to emergency responders.

        There have been many issues addressed in the guide lines which Toyota Motor Company wishes to resolve as quickly as possible. Toyota wants to assist the emergency responder at the scene of a crash or other incident where the Prius is involved.

        Extrication.Com (Ron Moore, Dwight Clark, Art Lamb and myself), hopefully will be involve in the development of a HV guideline. A project proposal will address responder concerns in the following areas: Extrication, Fire Suppression and Spills.

        We all have been excited with the aspect that Toyota has been willing to assist the responder by providing vital information in the way of recommended guidelines. Perhaps this will also inspire other manufacturers to do the same.

        While the automotive industry has strived to make a safer vehicle for the occupant, we also have seen a drastic increase in risk to responders while performing routine tasks at an incident.

        It's refreshing to see one of the largest auto makers in the world leading the way to reduce the risk to emergency responders, we applaud your efforts.

        Ron Shaw

        Ron Shaw http://www.extrication.com

        [This message has been edited by Ron Shaw (edited 12-01-2000).]


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