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  • Hybrid article........

    I'm posting this to see what everyone's opinions are on this article. I have my own thoughts, but I would like to see what you think before I post mine so I don't give anyone pre-conceived notions..........


    From the Toledo Blade Newspaper 07/23/2006


    ----------------------------------------------------

    Article published Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Rescuers wary of hybrids' high voltage
    Carmakers say power is cut as air bag deploys


    A rescue crew works to extricate a driver from a Toyota Prius after an accident near Olympia, Wash. With more hybrid cars on the road, rescuers are increasingly subject to a risk of electrical shock.
    ( ASSOCIATED PRESS )

    Zoom | Photo Reprints


    By LAREN WEBER
    BLADE STAFF WRITER


    Area firefighters say it's not knowing that worries them the most.

    It's not knowing if the car involved in an accident is a hybrid with hundreds of volts of electricity flowing through it.

    It's not knowing if the safety system, which is supposed to shut off the high-voltage current in an accident, worked properly.

    What is certain is that with gasoline prices rising to $3 a gallon and beyond, electric hybrids are becoming more and more popular. Electric hybrid cars use a combination of a gasoline motor and a high-voltage electric motor that operates with as much as 500 volts.

    Area fire officials say the increasing popularity of hybrids could bring a greater potential for injury or electrocution for rescue personnel trying to remove an injured person from a wrecked hybrid with hydraulic metal spreaders and cutters like the Hurst "Jaws of Life" or a metal-cutting saw if proper precautions aren't taken first. A good Samaritan passer-by who uses a tire iron or crowbar to help pry open a wrecked door before emergency personnel arrive might likewise be at risk.

    "It's a tremendous electrical hazard," said Toledo fire Lt. Michael Maraldo, who is based at Station No. 5 at Washington and Ontario streets.

    Honda and Toyota, leaders in the production of hybrids, insist the safety shutoffs on their vehicles should prevent injury or death to rescue personnel in the event their vehicles are involved in a crash. But fire officials aren't so sure.

    Because they are relatively new and there are fewer of them on the road, many area fire departments in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan have not experienced an accident involving an electric hybrid vehicle.

    From Jan. 1 to July 5, only 847 of a total 122,260 property-damage, injury, or fatal accidents in Ohio have involved Honda Insight or Toyota Prius electric hybrids.

    Michigan State Police do not keep accident statistics by vehicle model and could not provide similar statistics for hybrids there.

    As a result, many firefighters only know the potential dangers hybrids pose to them through safety information they have read from manufacturers and what they've learned from training programs or videos.

    Meanwhile, hybrid sales have surged, with nearly 200,000 sold nationwide last year - more than double the number sold in 2004, according to R.L. Polk & Co., a Southfield, Mich., firm that collects and interprets automotive data.

    Tax breaks and other incentives being offered by several states for purchasing hybrids have increased interest; the Michigan Legislature is considering legislation that would offer such incentives.

    "There's more and more out there," said Battalion Fire Chief Matt Traver of the Findlay Fire Department.

    Lt. Michael Imber of the Defiance Fire Department said he doesn't think the increasing number of hybrid cars on the roads necessarily means an increased risk to firefighters.

    "I don't know if it's making it any more dangerous; it's just being more aware, using precaution, and knowing your vehicle," he said.

    Honda and Toyota say they try to minimize the risk to firefighters by marking high-voltage wires in bright-orange casing to make them highly visible to firefighters and rescue crews. The casing is also supposed to protect the wires from being damaged.

    The high-voltage wires run underneath the center of Honda and Toyota electric hybrids, in a position where car manufacturers say it would be difficult to accidentally cut them.

    "It would take a pretty determined person to cut that wiring," said David Lee, product education administrator at Toyota's corporate headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

    Mr. Lee said safety systems installed in Toyota's hybrids are designed so that if the car is struck with enough force to deploy the air bags, a simultaneous signal is sent to shut off the electricity.

    "The high-voltage wiring, if it's performed properly, would be carrying no current - [the wiring] should be dead," Mr. Lee said. "I can see no concern for rescue personnel having to be at any more risk there than they would have with a [regular] car."

    But Lieutenant Maraldo said the "potential for risk is always there" because anything can happen to a vehicle in the brutal force of a crash.

    "It may work fine in testing circumstances and engineering design, but given all the things that can happen in an accident, there's no guarantee things are going to work the way it's supposed to," Lieutenant Maraldo said. "We operate as if everything [in the vehicle's electrical system] is live."

    Toledo fire Capt. Ken Gehring agreed: "Those [safety shutoffs] are all questionable on whether it works after impact."

    Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the possibility for a safety system malfunction always exists, but he emphasized that it's "very unlikely."

    "If the system didn't get input from the computer saying everything was OK, it wouldn't run. It wouldn't transfer energy back and forth," he said. "Even if there was a minor malfunction, it would default to the safe mode."

    If safety systems somehow malfunction and electricity is still flowing through the high-voltage wires, however, fire officials say using the Jaws of Life to extract someone from a hybrid vehicle could be potentially deadly.

    As a result, Lieutenant Maraldo said, "Until we're completely sure the line is de-energized, cutting is never an option."

    The chances of a passer-by who approaches an accident before rescue crews being electrocuted by helping an injured victim out of a hybrid vehicle are extremely small, Honda and Toyota officials say.

    Honda hybrids are designed in a way that the electrical system is grounded internally, so unless someone "shoved a crowbar into a battery pack or into one of the high-voltage wires," it is unlikely they would be electrocuted, Mr. Martin said.

    But he added, "we can't 100 percent guarantee" that electrocution won't occur.

    "There's always a chance," he said.

    Area firefighters said they try to read everything they can to educate themselves about hybrid vehicles. But until they respond to one in an accident, they don't know exactly what to expect, Lieutenant Maraldo said.

    "Twelve volts versus 300 to 500 volts is a completely different animal," he said.

    Contact Laren Weber at: [email protected] or 419-724-6050.
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

  • #2
    Personally, I think some untrained guys are scaring themselves over something that will have very little chance of happening.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

    Comment


    • #3
      Was talking with the Hurst guy that services our tools (please don't read into that), he said they are puting out a set of cutters that will warn the FF if they are coming into contact with high voltage-i.e. hybrids. Anyone hear anymore aboyt that?

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree, it sounds like they have not done there homework on Hybrid's. Some of the statements are to dramatic, " IT"S A TREMENDOUS ELECTRICAL HAZARD", only if you allow it to be by not doing a good size up and assigning someone to make sure it's disconected. It's a matter of awareness and training that will ease there fear of Hybrid's. STAY SAFE

        Comment


        • #5
          Cant be any more of a hazard then 22 gallons of nolead in a plastic tank. Were just used to it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by firenresq77
            I'm posting this to see what everyone's opinions are on this article. I have my own thoughts, but I would like to see what you think before I post mine so I don't give anyone pre-conceived notions..........


            From the Toledo Blade Newspaper 07/23/2006


            ----------------------------------------------------

            Article published Sunday, July 23, 2006

            Rescuers wary of hybrids' high voltage
            Carmakers say power is cut as air bag deploys


            A rescue crew works to extricate a driver from a Toyota Prius after an accident near Olympia, Wash. With more hybrid cars on the road, rescuers are increasingly subject to a risk of electrical shock.
            ( ASSOCIATED PRESS )

            Zoom | Photo Reprints


            By LAREN WEBER
            BLADE STAFF WRITER


            Area firefighters say it's not knowing that worries them the most.

            It's not knowing if the car involved in an accident is a hybrid with hundreds of volts of electricity flowing through it.

            It's not knowing if the safety system, which is supposed to shut off the high-voltage current in an accident, worked properly.

            What is certain is that with gasoline prices rising to $3 a gallon and beyond, electric hybrids are becoming more and more popular. Electric hybrid cars use a combination of a gasoline motor and a high-voltage electric motor that operates with as much as 500 volts.

            Area fire officials say the increasing popularity of hybrids could bring a greater potential for injury or electrocution for rescue personnel trying to remove an injured person from a wrecked hybrid with hydraulic metal spreaders and cutters like the Hurst "Jaws of Life" or a metal-cutting saw if proper precautions aren't taken first. A good Samaritan passer-by who uses a tire iron or crowbar to help pry open a wrecked door before emergency personnel arrive might likewise be at risk.

            "It's a tremendous electrical hazard," said Toledo fire Lt. Michael Maraldo, who is based at Station No. 5 at Washington and Ontario streets.

            Honda and Toyota, leaders in the production of hybrids, insist the safety shutoffs on their vehicles should prevent injury or death to rescue personnel in the event their vehicles are involved in a crash. But fire officials aren't so sure.

            Because they are relatively new and there are fewer of them on the road, many area fire departments in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan have not experienced an accident involving an electric hybrid vehicle.

            From Jan. 1 to July 5, only 847 of a total 122,260 property-damage, injury, or fatal accidents in Ohio have involved Honda Insight or Toyota Prius electric hybrids.

            Michigan State Police do not keep accident statistics by vehicle model and could not provide similar statistics for hybrids there.

            As a result, many firefighters only know the potential dangers hybrids pose to them through safety information they have read from manufacturers and what they've learned from training programs or videos.

            Meanwhile, hybrid sales have surged, with nearly 200,000 sold nationwide last year - more than double the number sold in 2004, according to R.L. Polk & Co., a Southfield, Mich., firm that collects and interprets automotive data.

            Tax breaks and other incentives being offered by several states for purchasing hybrids have increased interest; the Michigan Legislature is considering legislation that would offer such incentives.

            "There's more and more out there," said Battalion Fire Chief Matt Traver of the Findlay Fire Department.

            Lt. Michael Imber of the Defiance Fire Department said he doesn't think the increasing number of hybrid cars on the roads necessarily means an increased risk to firefighters.

            "I don't know if it's making it any more dangerous; it's just being more aware, using precaution, and knowing your vehicle," he said.

            Honda and Toyota say they try to minimize the risk to firefighters by marking high-voltage wires in bright-orange casing to make them highly visible to firefighters and rescue crews. The casing is also supposed to protect the wires from being damaged.

            The high-voltage wires run underneath the center of Honda and Toyota electric hybrids, in a position where car manufacturers say it would be difficult to accidentally cut them.

            "It would take a pretty determined person to cut that wiring," said David Lee, product education administrator at Toyota's corporate headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

            Mr. Lee said safety systems installed in Toyota's hybrids are designed so that if the car is struck with enough force to deploy the air bags, a simultaneous signal is sent to shut off the electricity.

            "The high-voltage wiring, if it's performed properly, would be carrying no current - [the wiring] should be dead," Mr. Lee said. "I can see no concern for rescue personnel having to be at any more risk there than they would have with a [regular] car."

            But Lieutenant Maraldo said the "potential for risk is always there" because anything can happen to a vehicle in the brutal force of a crash.

            "It may work fine in testing circumstances and engineering design, but given all the things that can happen in an accident, there's no guarantee things are going to work the way it's supposed to," Lieutenant Maraldo said. "We operate as if everything [in the vehicle's electrical system] is live."

            Toledo fire Capt. Ken Gehring agreed: "Those [safety shutoffs] are all questionable on whether it works after impact."

            Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the possibility for a safety system malfunction always exists, but he emphasized that it's "very unlikely."

            "If the system didn't get input from the computer saying everything was OK, it wouldn't run. It wouldn't transfer energy back and forth," he said. "Even if there was a minor malfunction, it would default to the safe mode."

            If safety systems somehow malfunction and electricity is still flowing through the high-voltage wires, however, fire officials say using the Jaws of Life to extract someone from a hybrid vehicle could be potentially deadly.

            As a result, Lieutenant Maraldo said, "Until we're completely sure the line is de-energized, cutting is never an option."

            The chances of a passer-by who approaches an accident before rescue crews being electrocuted by helping an injured victim out of a hybrid vehicle are extremely small, Honda and Toyota officials say.

            Honda hybrids are designed in a way that the electrical system is grounded internally, so unless someone "shoved a crowbar into a battery pack or into one of the high-voltage wires," it is unlikely they would be electrocuted, Mr. Martin said.

            But he added, "we can't 100 percent guarantee" that electrocution won't occur.

            "There's always a chance," he said.

            Area firefighters said they try to read everything they can to educate themselves about hybrid vehicles. But until they respond to one in an accident, they don't know exactly what to expect, Lieutenant Maraldo said.

            "Twelve volts versus 300 to 500 volts is a completely different animal," he said.

            Contact Laren Weber at: [email protected] or 419-724-6050.

            I considered posting this here too. I will also keep most of my thoughts to myself but I will agree with what has been said in the above posts.
            ------------------------------------
            These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
            ------------------------------------

            Comment


            • #7
              There is no need to fear hybrid vehicles, only a need to understand them.
              Last edited by harley4227; 07-26-2006, 11:20 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                [QUOTE=wag11c]Was talking with the Hurst guy that services our tools (please don't read into that), he said they are puting out a set of cutters that will warn the FF if they are coming into contact with high voltage-i.e. hybrids. Anyone hear anymore aboyt that?[/QUOTE]

                They are already on the market, the warning is a plastic like material that is used to make a cover for the tool. It is yellow on the inside and red on the out side, when current flows through the tool the red will change colors to match the inside. the handles and grips are all carbon fiber.

                Personally I do not understand the need or extra expense for these, as if we follow our training techniques we should never have a that problem, the only thing I personally see in them is a confidence builder or a means of over coming the fear of the unknown (which is a lack of training).
                http://www.midsouthrescue.org
                Is it time to change our training yet ?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here is a picture and description of the Hurst tool

                  http://www.midsouthrescue.org/id15.html
                  http://www.midsouthrescue.org
                  Is it time to change our training yet ?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks LJ, sometimes poop happens in the real world, anything that gives heightened confidence (that doesn't replace knowledge and skill), in my experience is a benefit.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      "Hot" stick

                      Does anybody know if the "Hot Stick" Would be able to pick up electricity leaks around the vehicle??
                      I just purchased a Toyota Hylander hybrid over the weekend and I'm doing as much research as possible.

                      Capt. 782
                      PPVFD/EMS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        http://www.hubbellpowersystems.com/P...hot%20stick%22

                        Take a look at this if it is the hot stick you are talking about, it does not look like it will register high enough on the DC side to handle the voltage of a hybrid system.

                        strictly a guess
                        http://www.midsouthrescue.org
                        Is it time to change our training yet ?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Capt782
                          Does anybody know if the "Hot Stick" Would be able to pick up electricity leaks around the vehicle??
                          I just purchased a Toyota Hylander hybrid over the weekend and I'm doing as much research as possible.

                          Capt. 782
                          PPVFD/EMS
                          I think you are referring to this:

                          http://www.hansenent.com/TacStick.htm

                          The website says its for AC only, so my guess woulr be no.
                          A Fire Chief has ONLY 1 JOB and that's to take care of his fireman. EVERYTHING else falls under this.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks JT your right, I forgot all about the A/C aspect of it. Sometimes when I brainstorm all I get is wet!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi folks....new poster to the board!

                              I agree with Harley's statement above.. This is new technology, sort of, that we simply need to train on and understand.

                              This technology has been out on the street for 7 years now. I teach a hybrid safety class and I get my info from the manufacturers Emergency Response Guidelines themselves, as well as off the internet in general and by conversing with those few whom have actually dealt with a hybrid vehicle incident. I also get info from service techs who work on these vehicles.

                              I started my research based on Chief Moore's articles on U of E here.

                              The common denominator to safely shutting these things down is simply, chocking the vehicle front AND back...place the vehicle in PARK or in gear on the Insight... apply the brake...REMOVE the key and keep it at least 16 feet away if it is one of the Toyota "smart key" systems, cut the negative ground wiring on the 12 volt battery--and voila! You have neutralized the high votage system. Should you not be able to access the key, remove the fuses from under the hood. This manuever is the least recommended procedure due to its proximity to the high voltage wiring...

                              When we perform these basic steps, IMO, we have turned a big bad Tonka truck into a little matchbox car...

                              Dangerous?? Sure...So is an interior attack..BUT, when we learned how to "safely" make these interior attacks, it became just simple second nature.

                              Same thing with these hybrids...

                              Just trying to help!

                              Comment

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