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About the project

NFPA’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Safety Training project helps first and second responders prepare for the growing number of electric, hybrid, fuel cell and gaseous fuel vehicles on U.S. roads today and in the years ahead.

About NFPA's Alternative Fuel Vehicle project

Delivering state-of-the-art information, techniques and resources, NFPA’s training program enables emergency responders to effectively handle incidents involving AFV vehicles – on the road and at refueling/charging stations.

Background
With more electric vehicles (EVs) on our roadways every year, NFPA launched an extensive research project in 2010 to find out if emergency responders were adequately prepared to safely handle incidents involving EVs. The answer was a resounding no; only a small fraction of the emergency responder community had received any training to handle such incidents, putting both operators of EVs and themselves at increased risk.

With that understanding, NFPA developed “U.S. Emergency Responder Safety Training for Advanced Electric Drive Vehicles”, a comprehensive training and educational support program that enables firefighters and other emergency responders to safely and knowledgeably handle incidents involving EVs.

Created with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the program targets the 1.2 million paid and volunteer firefighters, as well as millions of other various emergency responders in the U.S., and is now being implemented nationwide.

More recently, NFPA received grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expand on these efforts by providing training to safely handle a much broader range of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs).

NFPA’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training program accomplishes this task, addressing electric, hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas at incidents involving light-medium duty trucks, buses, commercial fleet, and passenger vehicles.

Risks posed by Alternative Fuel Vehicle crashes
The impact of AFV crashes involves serious, potentially fatal, on‐scene injuries to both emergency reponders and vehicle occupants, as well as the possibility of property damage and post‐incident injury or death, to investigators and tow and salvage personnel. Potential dangers may involve stranded energy, unexpected silent movement, toxic and flammable gases emanating from a damaged high voltage battery, thermal runaway, battery fires, and the possibility of electric shock through exposed high voltage wires and components, as well as charging station events.

Why is Alternative Fuel Vehicle training needed?
Emergency responders need to be adequately prepared to safely handle incidents involving AFVs. To date, the vast majority of firefighters and emergency responders haven’t received training or had experience with AFV incidents, putting both themselves and the operators of these vehicles at risk.

In 2014, 3.2 million hybrid and electric passenger vehicles were on U.S. roads. Over the next five years, that number is expected to quadruple. By 2017, it’s predicted that hybrid electric and plug-in electric vehicles will account for over five percent of total U.S. vehicle sales , followed by exponential growth as the technology continues to become more affordable.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has determined that new hybrid and EV technology is not inherently more dangerous to emergency responders and the public than conventional gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles. However, emergency responders simply haven’t had the training and experience with AFV incidents, as opposed to 100 years of education and familiarity with conventional combustion engine vehicles.

Meanwhile, NFPA’s statistics show that a car fire occurs every two minutes in the U.S., making the need for adequate incident training all the more imperative.

Who developed the program?
NFPA partnered with all the major auto manufacturers that sell hybrid and electric vehicles in the U.S., and worked closely with the Fire Protection Research Foundation, along with all the major North American fire service organizations, including:

  • International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
  • National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
  • International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA)
  • National Association State Fire Marshals (NASFM)
  • Metro Fire Chiefs
  • United States Fire Administration (USFA)
  • North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD)
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • National Sheriffs Association (NSA)
  • New York State Police (NYSP)
  • Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

NFPA is in the process of also partnering with gaseous fuel original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Why is NFPA leading this effort?
NFPA is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited national codes and standards developer for emergency responder qualifications, equipment and tactics, as well as the codes and standards developer for vehicle fueling. In addition, NFPA’s National Electrical Code® (NEC®) establishes standards for EV charging stations, electrified truck parking spaces and the impact of the EV charging infrastructure on power consumption and emergency response.